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Citati iz knjige „A Charge of Valor (Book #6 in the Sorcerer's Ring)“ autora Morgan Rice

them.
Thor turned and looked at the others, who all sat there, dumbfounded, and looked back at him.
Indra stood there, shaking her head.
“Don’t worry,” she said, “it gets much worse.”

mereka.
Thor berbalik dan menatap yang lain, yang semuanya duduk di sana, tercengang, dan menatapnya.
Indra berdiri di sana, menggelengkan kepalanya.
"Jangan khawatir," katanya, "itu menjadi jauh lebih buruk."

lowering its horns, Thor leapt high into the air and swung his sword, chopping off one of its horns as it rushed by. The animal shrieked, jumping up on two legs, and spun around, clipping Thor and knocking him to the ground.
The creature lifted its feet and tried to stomp Thor, but Thor rolled out of the way as its feet made an impression in the sand and stirred up a cloud of dust. The creature raised its feet again, and this time Thor raised his sword and plunged it into the creature’s chest.
The beast shrieked again, the sword plunging to the hilt, and Thor rolled out from under it right before it collapsed down to the ground, dead. He was lucky he did: the weight of it would have crushed him into the earth.
As Thor gained his feet another beast charged for him, and he leapt out of the way, but not before its horn grazed his arm, slicing it, making him scream out in pain and drop his sword. Swordless, Thor extracted his sling, placed a stone and hurled it at the beast.
The beast staggered and screamed as the stone impaled its eye—but still, it charged.
Thor ran to the left and to the right, trying to zigzag out of the way—but the creature was too fast. There was nowhere left to run, and he knew that in moments he would be gouged. As he ran he glanced over at his Legion brothers and saw they were not faring much better, each on the run from a beast.
The beast neared, just inches away, its awful snorting and smell in Thor’s ears, and it lowered its horns. Thor braced himself for the impact.
Suddenly the beast shrieked, and Thor turned to see it being lifted high into the air. Thor looked up, puzzled, not understanding what was happening—when he saw behind it a huge lime-green monster, the size of a dinosaur, a hundred feet tall, with rows of razor-sharp teeth. It held the beast in its jaw as if it were nothing, and leaned back scooped it up in its mouth. It held it there, squirming, then chewed it and gobbled it down in three huge bites, swallowing and licking its lips.
All around Thor the yellow creatures turned and ran from the beast. The beast chased after them, sliding and whipping its huge tail as it went; the tail caught Thor from behind, and sent him and the others landing hard on the ground. But the beast continued charging past them, more interested in the yellow creatures than in

menurunkan tanduknya, Thor melompat tinggi ke udara dan mengayunkan pedangnya, memotong salah satu tanduknya saat melintas. Hewan itu menjerit, melompat dengan dua kaki, dan berputar, menjepit Thor dan menjatuhkannya ke tanah.
Makhluk itu mengangkat kakinya dan mencoba menginjak Thor, tetapi Thor berguling keluar saat kakinya membuat kesan di pasir dan menggerakkan awan debu. Makhluk itu mengangkat kakinya lagi, dan kali ini Thor mengangkat pedangnya dan memasukkannya ke dada makhluk itu.
Binatang itu menjerit lagi, pedang itu jatuh ke gagangnya, dan Thor meluncur keluar dari bawah tepat sebelum itu jatuh ke tanah, mati. Dia beruntung dia melakukannya: beban itu akan menghancurkannya ke bumi.
Ketika Thor mendapatkan kakinya, seekor binatang lain menyerangnya, dan dia melompat keluar, tetapi tidak sebelum tanduknya menyerempet lengannya, mengirisnya, membuatnya menjerit kesakitan dan menjatuhkan pedangnya. Tanpa pedang, Thor mengeluarkan sling-nya, meletakkan batu dan melemparkannya ke binatang itu.
Binatang itu terhuyung-huyung dan menjerit ketika batu menusuk matanya — tapi tetap saja, ia menyerbu.
Thor berlari ke kiri dan ke kanan, mencoba zig-zag keluar dari jalan — tetapi makhluk itu terlalu cepat. Tidak ada tempat lagi untuk lari, dan dia tahu bahwa pada saat-saat dia akan dicungkil. Ketika dia berlari dia melirik ke Legiun bersaudara dan melihat mereka tidak bernasib lebih baik, masing-masing lari dari binatang buas.
Binatang buas itu mendekat, hanya beberapa inci jauhnya, dengusan dan baunya yang mengerikan di telinga Thor, dan ia menurunkan tanduknya. Thor mempersiapkan diri untuk dampaknya.
Tiba-tiba binatang itu menjerit, dan Thor berbalik untuk melihatnya diangkat tinggi-tinggi ke udara. Thor mendongak, bingung, tidak mengerti apa yang terjadi — ketika dia melihat di baliknya ada monster hijau kekuningan, seukuran dinosaurus, setinggi seratus kaki, dengan deretan gigi setajam silet. Dia memegangi binatang itu di rahangnya seolah-olah bukan apa-apa, dan bersandar ke mulutnya. Ia menahannya di sana, menggeliat, lalu mengunyahnya dan melahapnya dalam tiga gigitan besar, menelan dan menjilat bibirnya.
Di sekeliling Thor, makhluk-makhluk kuning itu berbalik dan lari dari binatang itu. Binatang buas mengejar mereka, meluncur dan mencambuk ekornya yang besar saat berjalan; Ekor itu menangkap Thor dari belakang, dan mengirimnya serta yang lainnya mendarat dengan keras di tanah. Tetapi binatang itu terus menerobos melewati mereka, lebih tertarik pada makhluk kuning daripada di

creatures arose from the sand and scurried their way towards them. Thor checked back over his shoulder and saw the lake of water the rains had left, and he realized that they were right in the path of the thirsty creatures.
Dozens of creatures which Thor had never laid eyes upon before raced his way. They were huge, yellow animals, resembling buffalo, yet twice as large, with four arms and four horns, running on two legs toward them. They charged in a funny way, every once a while pouncing down on all fours, then bouncing up again. They roared as they came for them, their vibrations shaking the ground.
Thor drew his sword, as did the others, and prepared to defend. As the first of the animals neared, Thor rolled to the side, out of the way, not striking it, hoping that it would just run right past them and go for the water.
The creature lowered its head to gouge Thor, and just missed as Thor rolled. To Thor’s dread, it was not content—it circled back, in a rage, and charged right for Thor. It seemed it wanted him dead more than it wanted water.
As it charged again, lower

makhluk-makhluk muncul dari pasir dan bergegas menuju mereka. Thor memeriksa balik dari bahunya dan melihat danau air yang ditinggalkan oleh hujan, dan dia menyadari bahwa mereka tepat di jalur makhluk haus.
Lusinan mahluk yang Thor tidak pernah lihat sebelumnya berlari cepat. Mereka adalah binatang besar berwarna kuning, menyerupai kerbau, namun dua kali lebih besar, dengan empat lengan dan empat tanduk, berlari dengan dua kaki ke arah mereka. Mereka menyerang dengan cara yang lucu, sesekali menerkam dengan merangkak, lalu bangkit kembali. Mereka meraung ketika mereka datang untuk mereka, getaran mereka mengguncang tanah.
Thor menghunus pedangnya, seperti yang lainnya, dan bersiap untuk bertahan. Ketika hewan-hewan pertama mendekat, Thor berguling ke samping, keluar dari jalan, tidak memukulnya, berharap hewan itu berlari melewati mereka dan pergi mencari air.
Makhluk itu menundukkan kepalanya untuk mencungkil Thor, dan hanya meleset saat Thor berguling. Yang membuat Thor takut, itu tidak puas — ia berputar balik, mengamuk, dan dibebankan tepat untuk Thor. Tampaknya itu ingin dia mati lebih dari yang diinginkan air.
Saat diisi ulang, lebih rendah

Thor watched as the rest of his water shot upwards from the skin, and then watched the skin itself crackle and turn dry, dropping down to the ground as a dry crisp.
Thor dropped to his knees, grabbing his throat, barely able to breathe. All around him, the others did the same.
“Water!” Elden pleaded beside him.
There came a great rumble, like the sound of a thousand thunders, and Thor looked up to watch the sky blacken. A single storm cloud appeared, racing towards them at incredible speed.
“GET DOWN!” Indra screamed. “The sky is reversing!”
She had barely finished speaking when the sky opened up and a wall of water came gushing down, knocking down Thor and the others with the force of a tidal wave.
Thor went rolling over and over in the wave of water, tumbling he did not know how long. Finally, he surfaced back on the desert floor, the wave rolling right past them. This was followed by sheets of pouring rain, and Thor threw his head back and drank and drank, as did the others, until finally he felt hydrated again.
Slowly, each of them regained their feet, breathing hard, looking beaten up. They turned to each other. They had survived. As their shock and fear subsided, slowly they burst out laughing.
“We’re alive!” O’Connor yelled out.
“Is that the worst this desert can give us?” Reece asked, joyful to be alive.
Indra shook her head, somber.
“You celebrate prematurely,” she said, looking very worried. “After the rains, the desert animals come out to drink.”
An awful noise arose, and Thor looked down and watched in horror as an army of small

Thor memperhatikan ketika sisa airnya melonjak ke atas dari kulit, dan kemudian menyaksikan kulit itu sendiri berderak dan mengering, jatuh ke tanah sebagai garing kering.
Thor berlutut, meraih tenggorokannya, nyaris tidak bisa bernapas. Di sekelilingnya, yang lain melakukan hal yang sama.
"Air!" Elden memohon di sebelahnya.
Terdengar gemuruh hebat, seperti suara seribu guruh, dan Thor mendongak untuk menyaksikan langit menghitam. Awan badai tunggal muncul, berlari ke arah mereka dengan kecepatan luar biasa.
"BAWAH!" Teriak Indra. "Langit berbalik!"
Dia baru saja selesai berbicara ketika langit terbuka dan dinding air mengalir deras, menjatuhkan Thor dan yang lainnya dengan kekuatan gelombang pasang.
Thor pergi berguling-guling dalam gelombang air, jatuh dia tidak tahu berapa lama. Akhirnya, dia muncul kembali di lantai gurun, ombak bergulir melewati mereka. Ini diikuti oleh lembaran hujan lebat, dan Thor melemparkan kepalanya ke belakang dan minum dan minum, seperti yang lain, sampai akhirnya dia merasa terhidrasi lagi.
Perlahan, masing-masing dari mereka mendapatkan kembali kaki mereka, terengah-engah, tampak dipukuli. Mereka saling berpaling. Mereka selamat. Saat kejutan dan ketakutan mereka mereda, perlahan-lahan mereka tertawa terbahak-bahak.
"Kami hidup!" Teriak O'Connor.
"Apakah itu yang terburuk yang bisa diberikan gurun ini kepada kita?" Reece bertanya, gembira masih hidup.
Indra menggelengkan kepalanya, muram.
"Kamu merayakannya sebelum waktunya," katanya, tampak sangat khawatir. "Setelah hujan, hewan-hewan gurun keluar untuk minum."
Sebuah suara mengerikan muncul, dan Thor melihat ke bawah dan menyaksikan dengan ngeri sebagai pasukan kecil

Indra shook her head and sighed.
“I didn’t expect any other answer from you boys,” she said. “Foolhardy to the last.”
*
Thor marched side by side with the others through the wasteland, squinting into the harsh sun, gasping in the relentless heat. He’d thought he would be thrilled to be rid of the underworld, of its ever-present gloom, of being unable to see the suns. But he had gone from one extreme to the other. Here, in this desert, there was nothing but sun: yellow sun and yellow sky, all beaming down on him and nowhere to go. His head hurt, and he was feeling dizzy. He was dragging his feet, and felt as if he had been marching a lifetime; as he looked over, he saw the others were, too.
They had been trekking half a day, and he did not know how they could possibly continue to keep this up. He looked over at Indra, holding her hood over her head, and wondered if she had been right. Maybe they had been foolhardy to attempt this. But he had vowed to find the Sword—and what choice did they have?
As they went, their feet stirred up clouds of dust, swirling everywhere, making it even harder to breathe. On the horizon there sat nothing but more sunbaked dirt, everything flat as far as the eye could see. There wasn’t the slightest glimmer of structure, or road, or mountain—or anything. Nothing but desert. Thor felt as if they had come to the very end of the world.
As they went, Thor took solace in one thing: at least now, for the first time, he trusted where they were going. No longer was he at the mercy of listening to those three brothers and their stupid map; now they listened to Indra, and he trusted her more than he had ever trusted them. He felt certain they were being led in the right direction—he just didn’t feel certain they would survive the journey.
Thor began to hear a subtle whooshing noise, and as he looked down, he saw the sand all around him swirling in circles. The others saw it, too, and Thor was confused as he watched the sand slowly gather, the circles growing more intense at his feet, then lift up into the sky. There soon arose a dust cloud, lifting off the desert floor, rising higher and higher.
Thor felt his entire body suddenly getting drier. He felt as if every drop of water was being pulled from his body, and he ached for water; he had never been so thirsty in his life.
He reached out in a panic, fumbling for his water skin, and raised it and squirted it towards his mouth. But as he did, the water turned and went upwards, towards the sky, never reaching his lips.
“What’s going on?” Thor yelled to Indra, gasping.
She watched the skies with fear, retracting her hood.
“A reverse rain!” she yelled.
“What’s that?” Elden yelled, gasping as he grabbed his throat.
“It’s raining upwards!” she yelled. “All the moisture is being sucked up to the sky!”

Indra menggelengkan kepalanya dan menghela nafas.
"Aku tidak mengharapkan jawaban lain dari kalian," katanya. "Bodoh sampai akhir."
*
Thor berbaris berdampingan dengan yang lain melalui gurun, menyipitkan mata ke matahari yang terik, terengah-engah dalam panas yang tiada henti. Dia pikir dia akan senang untuk terbebas dari dunia bawah, dari kesuramannya yang selalu ada, karena tidak dapat melihat matahari. Tetapi dia telah berpindah dari satu ekstrem ke ekstrem lainnya. Di sini, di gurun ini, tidak ada yang lain selain matahari: matahari kuning dan langit kuning, semua berseri-seri padanya dan ke mana-mana. Kepalanya sakit, dan dia merasa pusing. Dia menyeret kakinya, dan merasa seolah-olah dia telah berbaris seumur hidup; Ketika dia melihat ke atas, dia melihat yang lain juga.
Mereka telah berjalan setengah hari, dan dia tidak tahu bagaimana mereka bisa melanjutkan ini. Dia memandang Indra, memegang tudungnya di atas kepalanya, dan bertanya-tanya apakah dia benar. Mungkin mereka bodoh untuk mencoba ini. Tetapi dia telah bersumpah untuk menemukan Pedang — dan pilihan apa yang mereka miliki?
Ketika mereka pergi, kaki mereka mengaduk awan debu, berputar-putar di mana-mana, membuatnya lebih sulit untuk bernapas. Di cakrawala tidak ada yang tersisa kecuali lebih banyak tanah berjemur, semuanya datar sejauh mata memandang. Tidak ada sedikit pun struktur, atau jalan, atau gunung — atau apa pun. Hanya gurun. Thor merasa seolah-olah mereka telah sampai di ujung dunia.
Ketika mereka pergi, Thor mendapat penghiburan dalam satu hal: setidaknya sekarang, untuk pertama kalinya, dia percaya ke mana mereka pergi. Dia tidak lagi di belas kasihan mendengarkan tiga saudara itu dan peta bodoh mereka; sekarang mereka mendengarkan Indra, dan dia memercayainya lebih dari dia pernah mempercayai mereka. Dia merasa yakin mereka sedang dipimpin ke arah yang benar — dia hanya tidak merasa yakin mereka akan selamat dari perjalanan.
Thor mulai mendengar suara desis halus, dan ketika dia melihat ke bawah, dia melihat pasir di sekelilingnya berputar-putar. Yang lain juga melihatnya, dan Thor bingung ketika dia melihat pasir perlahan-lahan berkumpul, lingkaran tumbuh lebih kuat di kakinya, lalu terangkat ke langit. Segera muncul awan debu, mengangkat lantai gurun, naik semakin tinggi.
Thor merasa seluruh tubuhnya tiba-tiba menjadi kering. Dia merasa seolah-olah setiap tetes air ditarik dari tubuhnya, dan dia ingin air; dia belum pernah haus dalam hidupnya.
Dia mengulurkan tangan dalam kepanikan, mencari-cari kulitnya, dan mengangkatnya dan menyemprotkannya ke mulutnya. Tetapi ketika dia melakukannya, air berbalik dan naik ke atas, ke arah langit, tidak pernah mencapai bibirnya.
"Apa yang terjadi?" Thor berteriak kepada Indra, terengah-engah.
Dia menyaksikan langit dengan ketakutan, menarik tudungnya.
"Hujan yang turun!" Teriaknya.
"Apa itu?" Teriak Elden, terengah-engah saat dia meraih tenggorokannya.
"Hujan di atas!" Teriaknya. "Semua kelembaban disedot ke langit!"

Indra shook her head and sighed.
“I didn’t expect any other answer from you boys,” she said. “Foolhardy to the last.”
*
Thor marched side by side with the others through the wasteland, squinting into the harsh sun, gasping in the relentless heat. He’d thought he would be thrilled to be rid of the underworld, of its ever-present gloom, of being unable to see the suns. But he had gone from one extreme to the other. Here, in this desert, there was nothing but sun: yellow sun and yellow sky, all beaming down on him and nowhere to go. His head hurt, and he was feeling dizzy. He was dragging his feet, and felt as if he had been marching a lifetime; as he looked over, he saw the others were, too.
They had been trekking half a day, and he did not know how they could possibly continue to keep this up. He looked over at Indra, holding her hood over her head, and wondered if she had been right. Maybe they had been foolhardy to attempt this. But he had vowed to find the Sword—and what choice did they have?
As they went, their feet stirred up clouds of dust, swirling everywhere, making it even harder to breathe. On the horizon there sat nothing but more sunbaked dirt, everything flat as far as the eye could see. There wasn’t the slightest glimmer of structure, or road, or mountain—or anything. Nothing but desert. Thor felt as if they had come to the very end of the world.
As they went, Thor took solace in one thing: at least now, for the first time, he trusted where they were going. No longer was he at the mercy of listening to those three brothers and their stupid map; now they listened to Indra, and he trusted her more than he had ever trusted them. He felt cer

Indra menggelengkan kepalanya dan menghela nafas.
"Aku tidak mengharapkan jawaban lain dari kalian," katanya. "Bodoh sampai akhir."
*
Thor berbaris berdampingan dengan yang lain melalui gurun, menyipitkan mata ke matahari yang terik, terengah-engah dalam panas yang tiada henti. Dia pikir dia akan senang untuk terbebas dari dunia bawah, dari kesuramannya yang selalu ada, karena tidak dapat melihat matahari. Tetapi dia telah berpindah dari satu ekstrem ke ekstrem lainnya. Di sini, di gurun ini, tidak ada yang lain selain matahari: matahari kuning dan langit kuning, semua berseri-seri padanya dan ke mana-mana. Kepalanya sakit, dan dia merasa pusing. Dia menyeret kakinya, dan merasa seolah-olah dia telah berbaris seumur hidup; Ketika dia melihat ke atas, dia melihat yang lain juga.
Mereka telah berjalan setengah hari, dan dia tidak tahu bagaimana mereka bisa melanjutkan ini. Dia memandang Indra, memegang tudungnya di atas kepalanya, dan bertanya-tanya apakah dia benar. Mungkin mereka bodoh untuk mencoba ini. Tetapi dia telah bersumpah untuk menemukan Pedang — dan pilihan apa yang mereka miliki?
Ketika mereka pergi, kaki mereka mengaduk awan debu, berputar-putar di mana-mana, membuatnya lebih sulit untuk bernapas. Di cakrawala tidak ada yang tersisa kecuali lebih banyak tanah berjemur, semuanya datar sejauh mata memandang. Tidak ada sedikit pun struktur, atau jalan, atau gunung — atau apa pun. Hanya gurun. Thor merasa seolah-olah mereka telah sampai di ujung dunia.
Ketika mereka pergi, Thor mendapat penghiburan dalam satu hal: setidaknya sekarang, untuk pertama kalinya, dia percaya ke mana mereka pergi. Dia tidak lagi di belas kasihan mendengarkan tiga saudara itu dan peta bodoh mereka; sekarang mereka mendengarkan Indra, dan dia memercayainya lebih dari dia pernah mempercayai mereka. Dia merasakan cer

f the river, and then, as if the tides understood, the current suddenly picked up, pulling the boat away, slowly, gently. It drifted farther and farther away from the group, Krohn whining as it went. Out of nowhere there arose a mist, and it consumed the boat. It disappeared.
Thor felt as if his body, too, had been sucked into the underworld.
Slowly, the boys turned to each other and looked out, past the battlefield, and to the terrains beyond it. Behind them was the underworld from which they came; to one side was a vast plain of grass; and to the other side was an empty wasteland, a hard-baked desert. They stood at a crossroads.
Thor turned to Indra.
“To reach Neversink, we must cross that desert?” Thor asked.
She nodded.
“Is there no other way?” he asked.
She shook her head.
“There are other ways, but less direct. You would lose weeks. If you hope to beat the thieves, it is your only way.”
The others stared long and hard at it, the suns baking off it, rippling in waves.
“It looks unforgiving,” Reece said, coming up beside Thor.
“I know of no one who has ever crossed it and lived,” Indra said. “It is vast, filled with hostile creatures.”
“We don’t have enough provisions,” O’Connor said. “We wouldn’t make it.”
“Yet it is the way to the Sword,” Thor said.
“Assuming the Sword still exists,” Elden said.
“If the thieves have reached Neversink,” Indra said, “then your precious Sword is lost forever. You would risk your lives for a dream. The best thing you can do now is turn back to the Ring.”
“We will not turn back,” Thor said, determined.
“Especially not now,” Conven added, stepping forward, his eyes alight with fire and grief.
“We will find that Sword or die trying,” Reece said.

Dari sungai, dan kemudian, seakan ombak pasang, arus tiba-tiba naik, menarik perahu, perlahan, dengan lembut. Itu melayang semakin jauh dari kelompok itu, Krohn merengek. Entah dari mana muncul kabut, dan itu memakan perahu. Itu menghilang.
Thor merasa seolah-olah tubuhnya juga telah tersedot ke neraka.
Perlahan, anak-anak itu saling berpandangan dan memandang keluar, melewati medan perang, dan ke medan di luarnya. Di belakang mereka ada dunia bawah dari mana mereka datang; di satu sisi ada dataran luas rumput; dan di sisi lain ada gurun kosong, gurun yang sulit dipanggang. Mereka berdiri di persimpangan jalan.
Thor menoleh ke Indra.
"Untuk mencapai Neversink, kita harus menyeberangi gurun itu?" Tanya Thor.
Dia mengangguk.
"Apakah tidak ada jalan lain?" Tanyanya.
Dia menggelengkan kepalanya.
“Ada cara lain, tapi kurang langsung. Anda akan kehilangan minggu. Jika Anda berharap untuk mengalahkan pencuri, itu adalah satu-satunya cara Anda. "
Yang lain menatapnya panjang dan keras, matahari memanggangnya, berdesir dalam gelombang.
"Itu tampak tak kenal ampun," kata Reece, muncul di samping Thor.
"Saya tahu tidak ada orang yang pernah melintasinya dan hidup," kata Indra. "Itu sangat luas, dipenuhi dengan makhluk bermusuhan."
"Kami tidak memiliki cukup ketentuan," kata O'Connor. "Kami tidak akan berhasil."
"Namun itu adalah jalan menuju Pedang," kata Thor.
"Dengan asumsi Pedang masih ada," kata Elden.
“Jika pencuri telah mencapai Neversink,” kata Indra, “maka Pedangmu yang berharga hilang selamanya. Anda akan mempertaruhkan hidup Anda untuk mimpi. Hal terbaik yang dapat Anda lakukan sekarang adalah kembali ke Cincin. "
"Kami tidak akan kembali," kata Thor, bertekad.
"Terutama tidak sekarang," tambah Conven, melangkah maju, matanya menyala karena api dan kesedihan.
"Kita akan menemukan Pedang itu atau mati saat mencoba," kata Reece.

SEVEN

Thor stood with Reece, O’Connor, Elden, Conven, Indra and Krohn at the mouth of the river, all of them looking down at Conval’s corpse. The mood in the air was somber. Thor felt it himself, the weight of it on his chest, pulling him down, as he stared down at his Legion brother. Conval. Dead. It did not seem possible. There had been six of them together on this journey for as long as Thor could remember. He had never imagined there would be five. It made him feel his mortality.
Thor thought of all the times that Conval had been there for him, remembered how he had always been there, every step of his journey, from the first day Thor had joined the Legion. He was like a brother to him. Conval had always stuck up for Thor, had always had a good word for him; unlike some of the others, he had accepted Thor as a friend from the very beginning. To see him lying there dead—and especially as a result of Thor’s mistakes—made Thor feel sick to his stomach. If he had never trusted those three brothers, perhaps Conval would be standing alive today.
Thor could not think of Conval without Conven, the two identical twins, inseparable, always completing each other’s thoughts. He could not imagine the pain Conven was feeling. Conven looked as if he was not in his right mind anymore; the happy, carefree Conven he once knew seemed to have departed in a single stroke.
They all still stood at the edge of the battlefield where it had taken place, the Empire corpses piled up around them. They stood there, rooted, looking down at Conval, none of them willing to move on until they had given him a proper burial. They had found some choice furs on some Empire officers, had stripped them, and had wrapped Conval’s corpse in them. They had placed him on a small boat, the one they had used to get here, and his body lay in it, long, stiff, facing the sky. A warrior’s burial. Conval already seemed so frozen, his body stiff and blue, as if he had never lived.
They had been standing there for Thor did not know how long, each of them lost in their own sorrows, none wanting to see his body go. Indra moved her palm over Conval’s head in small circles, chanting something in a language that Thor did not understand, her eyes closed. He could tell how much she cared for him as she conducted the solemn funeral service, and Thor felt a sense of peace at the sound. None of the boys knew what to say, and they all stood there glumly, silent, letting Indra lead the service.
Finally, Indra finished and took a step back. Conven stepped forward, tears running down his cheeks, and knelt down beside his brother. He reached out and lay a hand on his, bowing his head.
Conven reached out and gave the boat a shove. It bobbed out into the still waters of the river, and then, as if the ti

TUJUH

Thor berdiri bersama Reece, O'Connor, Elden, Conven, Indra dan Krohn di mulut sungai, semuanya memandang ke bawah pada mayat Conval. Suasana di udara suram. Thor merasakannya sendiri, beban di dadanya, menariknya ke bawah, saat dia menatap ke bawah ke arah Legiunnya. Konval. Mati. Tampaknya tidak mungkin. Sudah ada enam dari mereka bersama dalam perjalanan ini selama Thor bisa mengingat. Dia tidak pernah membayangkan akan ada lima. Itu membuatnya merasakan kefanaannya.
Thor memikirkan semua saat Conval ada di sana untuknya, mengingat bagaimana dia selalu ada di sana, setiap langkah dalam perjalanannya, sejak hari pertama Thor bergabung dengan Legiun. Dia seperti saudara baginya. Conval selalu mendukung Thor, selalu mengucapkan kata yang baik untuknya; tidak seperti beberapa yang lain, dia telah menerima Thor sebagai teman sejak awal. Melihatnya terbaring mati di sana — dan terutama sebagai akibat kesalahan Thor — membuat Thor merasa mual. Jika dia tidak pernah mempercayai ketiga bersaudara itu, mungkin Conval akan tetap hidup hari ini.
Thor tidak bisa memikirkan Konval tanpa Conven, dua kembar identik, tidak terpisahkan, selalu saling melengkapi satu sama lain. Dia tidak bisa membayangkan rasa sakit yang dirasakan Conven. Conven tampak seperti tidak waras lagi; Conven yang ceria dan riang yang pernah dia kenal tampaknya telah pergi dengan satu pukulan.
Mereka semua masih berdiri di tepi medan perang tempat itu terjadi, mayat-mayat Kekaisaran menumpuk di sekitar mereka. Mereka berdiri di sana, berakar, memandang ke bawah ke arah Conval, tidak ada dari mereka yang mau melanjutkan sampai mereka memberinya penguburan yang layak. Mereka telah menemukan beberapa bulu pilihan pada beberapa perwira Kekaisaran, telah menelanjangi mereka, dan telah membungkus mayat Conval di dalamnya. Mereka menempatkannya di atas perahu kecil, yang biasa mereka gunakan di sini, dan tubuhnya berbaring di sana, panjang, kaku, menghadap ke langit. Pemakaman prajurit. Konval sudah tampak begitu beku, tubuhnya kaku dan biru, seolah-olah dia belum pernah hidup.
Mereka telah berdiri di sana karena Thor tidak tahu berapa lama, masing-masing dari mereka tersesat dalam kesedihan mereka sendiri, tidak ada yang ingin melihat tubuhnya pergi. Indra menggerakkan telapak tangannya di atas kepala Conval dalam lingkaran kecil, melantunkan sesuatu dalam bahasa yang Thor tidak mengerti, matanya terpejam. Dia bisa tahu betapa dia peduli padanya saat dia melakukan upacara pemakaman yang khidmat, dan Thor merasakan kedamaian pada suara itu. Tidak ada anak laki-laki yang tahu apa yang harus dikatakan, dan mereka semua berdiri di sana dengan murung, diam, membiarkan Indra memimpin kebaktian.
Akhirnya, Indra selesai dan mundur selangkah. Conven melangkah maju, air mata mengalir di pipinya, dan berlutut di samping saudaranya. Dia mengulurkan tangan dan meletakkan tangannya di tangannya, menundukkan kepalanya.
Convenience mengulurkan tangan dan mendorong perahu. Ia meliuk keluar ke perairan sungai yang tenang, dan kemudian, seolah ti

He paused, smiling.
“It is a very generous offer. Do not ponder it long.”
With that, Andronicus turned and stormed off.
The Silesians all gradually turned and looked back at each other.
Srog stepped forward.
“Fellow Silesians!” boomed Srog, to a huge, growing crowd of warriors, looking more serious than Kendrick had ever seen him. “Andronicus has attacked our very finest, our most cherished leader. The daughter of our beloved king MacGil, and a great Queen in her own right. He has attacked each and every one of us. He has tried to put a stain on our honor—but he has only stained his own!”
“AYE!” screamed the crowd, the men stirring, each grasping the hilts of their swords, fire in their eyes.
“Kendrick,” Srog said, turning to him. “What do you propose?”
Kendrick slowly looked into the eyes of all the men before them.
“WE ATTACK!” Kendrick screamed, fire in his veins.
The crowd screamed back in approval, a thicker and thicker crowd, fearlessness in their eyes. Each and every one of these people, he saw, was ready to fight to the death.
“WE DIE LIKE MEN, AND NOT LIKE DOGS!” Kendrick screamed again.
“AYE!” screamed back the crowd.
“WE WILL FIGHT FOR GWENDOLYN! FOR ALL OF OUR MOTHERS AND SISTERS AND WIVES!”
“AYE!”
“FOR GWENDOLYN!” Kendrick screamed.
“FOR GWENDOLYN!” the crowd screamed back.
The crowd roared in ecstasy, growing thicker with each passing moment.
With one final shout, they followed Kendrick and Srog as they led the way up the narrow landing, higher and higher, for Upper Silesia. The time had come to show Andronicus what the Silver was made of.

Dia berhenti, tersenyum.
“Ini tawaran yang sangat murah hati. Jangan merenungkannya lama. "
Dengan itu, Andronicus berbalik dan pergi.
Semua Silesia berangsur-angsur berbalik dan saling memandang.
Srog melangkah maju.
"Rekan-rekan Silesia!" Booming Srog, kepada kerumunan prajurit yang semakin besar, tampak lebih serius daripada yang pernah dilihat Kendrick. “Andronicus telah menyerang pemimpin terbaik kita, yang paling kita sayangi. Putri raja tercinta kita MacGil, dan seorang Ratu agung dalam haknya sendiri. Dia telah menyerang kita masing-masing. Dia telah mencoba untuk menodai kehormatan kita — tetapi dia hanya menodai dirinya sendiri! ”
"AYE!" Teriak kerumunan, para lelaki bergerak, masing-masing memegang gagang pedang mereka, menembak di mata mereka.
"Kendrick," kata Srog, menoleh padanya. "Apa yang kamu usulkan?"
Kendrick perlahan menatap mata semua pria di depan mereka.
"KAMI SERANGAN!" Teriak Kendrick, api di nadinya.
Kerumunan berteriak kembali menyetujui, kerumunan lebih tebal dan lebih tebal, tanpa rasa takut di mata mereka. Setiap orang di sini, dia melihat, siap bertarung sampai mati.
"KAMI MATI SEPERTI PRIA, DAN BUKAN SEPERTI ANJING!" Teriak Kendrick lagi.
"AYE!" Jerit balik kerumunan.
“KAMI AKAN BERPERANG UNTUK GWENDOLYN! UNTUK SEMUA IBU KAMI DAN SISTER DAN ISTRI! ”
"IYA!"
"UNTUK GWENDOLYN!" Teriak Kendrick.
"UNTUK GWENDOLYN!" Kerumunan itu berteriak.
Kerumunan meraung dalam ekstasi, tumbuh lebih tebal dengan setiap saat yang lewat.
Dengan satu teriakan terakhir, mereka mengikuti Kendrick dan Srog ketika mereka memimpin jalan ke pendakian yang sempit, lebih tinggi dan lebih tinggi, untuk Silesia Atas. Waktunya telah tiba untuk menunjukkan kepada Andronicus apa yang terbuat dari Perak.

Her mother stared down at her coldly, then finally, after an interminable silence, turned and strutted from the room, like a peacock, and slammed the door behind her.
In the empty silence, Gwen began to cry, and she cried and cried. More than ever, she wished all of this would just go away.

Ibunya menatapnya dengan dingin, lalu akhirnya, setelah keheningan yang tak berkesudahan, berbalik dan melangkah keluar ruangan, seperti burung merak, dan membanting pintu di belakangnya.
Dalam keheningan yang kosong, Gwen mulai menangis, dan dia menangis dan menangis. Lebih dari sebelumnya, dia berharap semua ini akan hilang begitu saja.

“If you want to survive and be at home in this world, you have to be strong. Stronger than the men. Men will get you, one way or another. It is not about what happens to you—it is about how you perceive it. How you react to it. That is what you have control over. You can crumple up and die. Or you can be strong. That is what separates girls from women.”
Gwen knew her mother was trying to help, but she resented the lack of compassion in her approach. And she hated being lectured to.
“I hate you,” Gwendolyn said to her. “I always have.”
“I know you do,” her mother said. “And I hate you, too. But that does not mean we cannot understand each other. I don’t want your love—what I want is for you to be strong. This world isn’t ruled by people who are weak and scared—it is ruled by those who shake their heads at adversity as if it were nothing. You can collapse and die if you like. There is plenty of time for that. But that is boring. Be strong and live. Truly live. Be an example for others. Because one day, I assure you, you will die anyway. And while you’re alive, you might as well live.”
“Leave me be!” Gwendolyn screamed, unable to hear another word.

“Jika kamu ingin bertahan dan berada di rumah di dunia ini, kamu harus kuat. Lebih kuat dari pada pria. Pria akan mendapatkan Anda, dengan satu atau lain cara. Ini bukan tentang apa yang terjadi pada Anda — ini tentang bagaimana Anda melihatnya. Bagaimana Anda bereaksi terhadapnya. Itulah yang Anda kendalikan. Anda bisa meremas dan mati. Atau Anda bisa menjadi kuat. Itulah yang memisahkan perempuan dari perempuan. ”
Gwen tahu ibunya berusaha membantu, tetapi dia membenci kurangnya kasih sayang dalam pendekatannya. Dan dia benci diajar.
"Aku benci kamu," kata Gwendolyn padanya. "Aku selalu."
"Aku tahu kamu tahu," kata ibunya. "Dan aku juga membencimu. Tetapi itu tidak berarti kita tidak dapat saling memahami. Saya tidak ingin cinta Anda — yang saya inginkan adalah agar Anda menjadi kuat. Dunia ini tidak diperintah oleh orang-orang yang lemah dan takut — diperintah oleh mereka yang menggelengkan kepala dalam kesulitan seolah-olah itu bukan apa-apa. Anda bisa pingsan dan mati jika mau. Ada banyak waktu untuk itu. Tapi itu membosankan. Jadilah kuat dan hidup. Benar-benar hidup. Jadilah teladan bagi orang lain. Karena suatu hari, saya yakinkan Anda, Anda akan tetap mati. Dan sementara Anda hidup, Anda mungkin juga hidup. "
"Biarkan aku!" Teriak Gwendolyn, tidak dapat mendengar kata lain.

understanding.
“Another time,” she said, feeling despondent. “I need to be alone. If you would, please, leave me. All of you,” she said, turning and looking at Steffen and Illepra.
They all rose to their feet and bowed their heads, then turned and hurried from the room.
Gwen felt guilty, but she couldn’t stop it; she wanted to crumple into a ball and die. She listened to their steps cross the room, heard the door close behind them, and looked up to make sure the room was empty.
But she was surprised to see that it was not: there stood a lone figure, standing inside the doorway, erect, with her posture perfect, as always. She walked slowly and stately towards Gwen, stopping a few feet from her bedside, staring down at her, expressionless.
Her mother.
Gwen was surprised to see her standing there, the former Queen, as stately and proud as ever, looking down at her with an expression as cool as ever. There was no compassion behind her eyes, as there were behind the eyes of other visitors.
“Why are you here?” Gwen asked.
“I’ve come to see you.”
“But I don’t want to see you,” Gwen said. “I don’t want to see anyone.”
“I don’t care what you want,” her mother said, cool and confident. “I am your mother, and I have a right to see you when I wish.”
Gwen felt her old anger towards her mother flare up; she was the last person she wanted to see at this moment. But she knew her mother and knew that she would not leave until she had spoken her mind.
“So speak then,” Gwendolyn said. “Speak and leave and be done with me.”
Her mother sighed.
“You don’t know this,” her mother said. “But when I was young, your age, I was attacked in the same way as you.”
Gwen stared back, shocked; she’d had no idea.
“Your father knew of it,” her mother continued. “And he did not care. He married me just the same. At the time, it felt as if my world had ended. But it had not.”
Gwen closed her eyes, feeling another tear roll down her cheek, trying to block the topic out. She did not want to hear her mother’s story. It was too little too late for her mother to give her any real compassion. Did she just expect she could waltz in here, after so many years of harsh treatment, and offer a sympathetic story and expect all to be mended in return?
“Are you done now?” Gwendolyn asked.
Her mother stepped forward, “No, I’m not done,” she said firmly. “You are Queen now—it is time for you to act like one,” her mother said, her voice as hard as steel. Gwen heard a strength in it she had never heard before. “You pity yourself. But women every day, everywhere, suffer far worse fates than you. What has happened to you is nothing in the scheme of life. Do you understand me? It is nothing.”
Her mother sighed.
“If you want to survive and

pengertian.
"Lain kali," katanya, merasa sedih. "Saya ingin menyendiri. Jika kamu mau, tolong, tinggalkan aku. Kalian semua, ”katanya, berbalik dan memandang Steffen dan Illepra.
Mereka semua bangkit dan menundukkan kepala, lalu berbalik dan bergegas keluar dari ruangan.
Gwen merasa bersalah, tetapi dia tidak bisa menghentikannya; dia ingin meremas bola dan mati. Dia mendengarkan langkah mereka melintasi ruangan, mendengar pintu menutup di belakang mereka, dan mendongak untuk memastikan ruangan itu kosong.
Tetapi dia terkejut melihat bahwa itu bukan: di sana berdiri sosok sendirian, berdiri di dalam pintu, tegak, dengan postur tubuhnya yang sempurna, seperti biasa. Dia berjalan perlahan dan megah ke arah Gwen, berhenti beberapa kaki dari samping tempat tidurnya, menatapnya, tanpa ekspresi.
Ibunya.
Gwen terkejut melihat dia berdiri di sana, mantan Ratu, sebagai megah dan bangga seperti biasa, menatapnya dengan ekspresi sedingin sebelumnya. Tidak ada belas kasih di belakang matanya, karena ada di belakang mata pengunjung lain.
"Kenapa kamu di sini?" Tanya Gwen.
"Aku datang untuk menemuimu."
"Tapi aku tidak ingin melihatmu," kata Gwen. "Aku tidak ingin melihat siapa pun."
"Saya tidak peduli apa yang Anda inginkan," kata ibunya, tenang dan percaya diri. "Aku ibumu, dan aku berhak melihatmu kapan saja aku mau."
Gwen merasakan kemarahan lamanya terhadap ibunya berkobar; dia adalah orang terakhir yang ingin dia temui saat ini. Tetapi dia mengenal ibunya dan tahu bahwa dia tidak akan pergi sebelum dia mengatakan apa yang dia pikirkan.
"Jadi, berbicaralah," kata Gwendolyn. "Bicaralah dan pergi dan selesai dengan saya."
Ibunya menghela nafas.
"Kamu tidak tahu ini," kata ibunya. "Tapi ketika aku masih muda, seusiamu, aku diserang dengan cara yang sama seperti kamu."
Gwen balas menatap, kaget; dia tidak tahu.
"Ayahmu tahu itu," lanjut ibunya. “Dan dia tidak peduli. Dia menikahi saya sama saja. Pada saat itu, rasanya dunia saya telah berakhir. Tapi ternyata tidak. ”
Gwen memejamkan matanya, merasakan air mata lain bergulir di pipinya, berusaha menghalangi topik itu. Dia tidak ingin mendengar cerita ibunya. Sudah terlalu terlambat bagi ibunya untuk memberinya belas kasihan yang nyata. Apakah dia hanya berharap dia bisa melenggang di sini, setelah bertahun-tahun diperlakukan dengan kasar, dan menawarkan kisah simpatik dan berharap semua akan diperbaiki sebagai balasannya?
"Apakah kamu sudah selesai sekarang?" Tanya Gwendolyn.
Ibunya melangkah maju, "Tidak, aku belum selesai," katanya dengan tegas. "Kamu Ratu sekarang — saatnya bagimu untuk bertindak seperti itu," kata ibunya, suaranya sekeras baja. Gwen mendengar kekuatan di dalamnya yang belum pernah dia dengar sebelumnya. "Kau mengasihani dirimu sendiri. Tetapi wanita setiap hari, di mana saja, mengalami nasib yang jauh lebih buruk daripada Anda. Apa yang terjadi pada Anda tidak ada artinya dalam skema kehidupan. Apakah kamu mengerti yang saya maksud? Ini bukan apa-apa."
Ibunya menghela nafas.
"Jika Anda ingin bertahan hidup dan

Gwen teared up.
“Argon saved us both,” she concluded.
Kendrick’s face darkened.
“We will avenge you,” he said.
“It is not myself I’m worried about,” she said. “It is the city … our people … Silesia … Andronicus … he will attack.…”
Godfrey patted her hand.
“Don’t you worry about that now,” he said, stepping forward. “Rest. Let us discuss these things. You are safe now, here.”
Gwen felt her eyes closing on her. She didn’t know if she was awake or dreaming.
“She needs to sleep,” Illepra said, stepping forward, protective.
Gwendolyn dimly heard all of this as she felt herself growing heavier and heavier, drifting in and out of consciousness. In her mind flashed images of Thor, and then, of her father. She was having a hard time discerning what was real and what was a dream, and she heard only snippets of the conversation above her head.
“How serious are her wounds?” came a voice, maybe Kendrick’s.
She felt Illepra run her palm across her forehead. And then the last words she heard, before her eyes closed on her,

Gwen menangis.
"Argon menyelamatkan kita berdua," simpulnya.
Wajah Kendrick menjadi gelap.
"Kami akan membalasmu," katanya.
"Bukan saya sendiri yang saya khawatirkan," katanya. "Ini adalah kota ... orang-orang kita ... Silesia ... Andronicus ... dia akan menyerang. ..."
Godfrey menepuk tangannya.
"Jangan khawatir tentang itu sekarang," katanya, melangkah maju. "Beristirahat. Mari kita bahas hal-hal ini. Anda aman sekarang, di sini. "
Gwen merasakan matanya menutupinya. Dia tidak tahu apakah dia bangun atau bermimpi.
"Dia perlu tidur," kata Illepra, melangkah maju, protektif.
Gwendolyn samar-samar mendengar semua ini ketika dia merasa dirinya semakin bertambah dan semakin berat, keluar masuk kesadaran. Dalam benaknya terlintas gambar Thor, dan kemudian, ayahnya. Dia kesulitan menemukan apa yang nyata dan apa itu mimpi, dan dia hanya mendengar potongan percakapan di atas kepalanya.
"Seberapa serius lukanya?" Terdengar suara, mungkin Kendrick.
Dia merasa Illepra menggerakkan telapak tangannya di dahinya. Dan kemudian kata-kata terakhir yang dia dengar, sebelum matanya terpejam padanya,

Kendrick clasped her hand tighter.
“They were going to kill me…” she said. “…but Steffen saved me…”
The men all looked to Steffen with a new respect, who stood loyally by her side, bowing his head.
“What I did was too little and too late,” he replied humbly. “I was one man against many.”
“Even so, you saved our sister, and for that we shall always be in your debt,” Kendrick said.
Steffen shook his head.
“I owe her a far greater debt,” he responded.

Kendrick menggenggam tangannya lebih erat.
"Mereka akan membunuhku ...," katanya. "... tapi Steffen menyelamatkanku ..."
Semua pria memandang Steffen dengan rasa hormat baru, yang berdiri dengan loyal di sisinya, menundukkan kepalanya.
"Apa yang saya lakukan terlalu kecil dan terlambat," jawabnya dengan rendah hati. "Aku adalah satu orang yang menentang banyak orang."
"Meski begitu, kau menyelamatkan saudari kita, dan untuk itu kita akan selalu berhutang padamu," kata Kendrick.
Steffen menggelengkan kepalanya.
"Aku berhutang budi padanya yang jauh lebih besar," jawabnya.

She shook her head again and again, a tear rolling down her cheek.
“No, you are noble,” Kendrick corrected, clasping her hand. “You are the most courageous of us all.”
“You did what any great leader would have done,” Godfrey said, stepping forward.
Gwen shook her head.
“He tricked us…” Gwendolyn said, “…and he attacked me. He had McCloud attack me.”
Gwen couldn’t help it: she began to cry as she spoke the words, unable to hold it back. She knew it was not leader-like to do so, but she could not help herself.

Dia menggelengkan kepalanya lagi dan lagi, air mata mengalir di pipinya.
"Tidak, kau bangsawan," Kendrick mengoreksi, menggenggam tangannya. "Kamu yang paling berani dari kita semua."
"Kau melakukan apa yang akan dilakukan oleh pemimpin besar mana pun," kata Godfrey, melangkah maju.
Gwen menggelengkan kepalanya.
"Dia menipu kita ..." kata Gwendolyn, "... dan dia menyerangku. Dia menyuruh McCloud menyerangku. "
Gwen tidak bisa menahannya: dia mulai menangis ketika mengucapkan kata-kata itu, tidak mampu menahannya. Dia tahu itu tidak seperti pemimpin, tetapi dia tidak bisa menahan diri.

Gwen licked her chapped lips, and a moment later felt her head being propped up from behind, set under a pillow, and a jug of water being put to her lips. She drank and drank, and realized how thirsty she was. She looked up and saw a woman she recognized.
Illepra, the royal healer. Illepra looked down, her soft hazel eyes filled with concern, giving her water, running a warm cloth over her forehead, wiping the hair out of her face. She lay a palm on her forehead, and Gwen felt a healing energy pass through her. She felt her eyes getting heavy, and soon she found them closing against her will.
*
Gwendolyn did not know how much time had passed when she opened her eyes again. She still felt exhausted, disoriented. In her dreams she had heard a voice, and now she heard it again.
“Gwendolyn,” came the voice. She heard it echo in her mind, and wondered how many times he had called her name.
She looked up and recognized Kendrick, looking down at her. Standing beside him was her brother Godfrey, along with Srog, Brom, Kolk and several others. On her other side stood Steffen. She hated the expressions in their faces. They looked at her as if she were a thing to pity, as if she had returned from the dead.
“My sister,” Kendrick said, smiling. She could hear the concern in his voice. “Tell us what happened.”
Gwen shook her head, too tired to recount everything.
“Andronicus,” she said, her voice hoarse, coming out more like a whisper. She cleared her throat. “I tried…to surrender myself…in return for the city…I trusted him. Stupid….”

Gwen menjilat bibirnya yang pecah-pecah, dan sesaat kemudian kepalanya terasa ditopang dari belakang, diletakkan di bawah bantal, dan sebotol air diletakkan di bibirnya. Dia minum dan minum, dan menyadari betapa hausnya dia. Dia mendongak dan melihat seorang wanita yang dikenalinya.
Illepra, tabib kerajaan. Illepra melihat ke bawah, mata hazelnya yang lembut penuh dengan kekhawatiran, memberikan air, menyiram kain hangat di dahinya, menyeka rambut dari wajahnya. Dia meletakkan telapak tangan di dahinya, dan Gwen merasakan energi penyembuhan melewatinya. Dia merasakan matanya semakin berat, dan segera dia menemukan mereka menutup di luar kehendaknya.
*
Gwendolyn tidak tahu berapa banyak waktu telah berlalu ketika dia membuka matanya lagi. Dia masih merasa lelah, bingung. Dalam mimpinya dia telah mendengar suara, dan sekarang dia mendengarnya lagi.
"Gwendolyn," terdengar suara itu. Dia mendengar itu bergema di benaknya, dan bertanya-tanya berapa kali dia memanggil namanya.
Dia mendongak dan mengenali Kendrick, menatapnya. Berdiri di sampingnya adalah kakaknya Godfrey, bersama dengan Srog, Brom, Kolk dan beberapa lainnya. Di sisinya yang lain berdiri Steffen. Dia membenci ekspresi di wajah mereka. Mereka memandangnya seolah-olah dia mengasihani, seolah-olah dia telah kembali dari kematian.
"Adikku," kata Kendrick, tersenyum. Dia bisa mendengar kekhawatiran dalam suaranya. "Ceritakan apa yang terjadi."
Gwen menggelengkan kepalanya, terlalu lelah untuk menceritakan semuanya.
"Andronicus," katanya, suaranya serak, keluar lebih seperti bisikan. Dia berdeham. "Aku mencoba ... untuk menyerahkan diriku ... sebagai imbalan untuk kota ... aku mempercayainya. Bodoh…."

Gwendolyn opened her eyes, feeling the world moving around her, and struggled to figure out where she was. She saw, passing by her, the huge, arched red stone gates of Silesia, saw thousands of Empire soldiers watching her in wonder. She saw Steffen, walking beside her, and she watched as the sky, bounced up and down. She realized she was being carried. That she was in somebody’s arms.
She craned her neck and saw the shining, intense eyes of Argon. She was being carried, she realized, by Argon, Steffen by their side, the three of them walking openly through the gates of Silesia, past thousands of Empire soldiers, who parted ways for them and stood there, staring. They were surrounded by a white glow, and Gwendolyn could feel herself immersed in some sort of protective energy shield in Argon’s arms. She realized he was casting some sort of spell to keep all the soldiers at bay.
Gwen felt comforted, protected in Argon’s arms. Every muscle in her body ached, she was exhausted, and she didn’t know if she could walk if she tried. Her eyes fluttered as they went, and she watched the world pass by her in snippets. She saw a piece of a crumbling wall; a collapsed parapet; a burnt-out dwelling; a pile of rubble; she saw them cross through the courtyard, reach the farthest gates, at the edge of the Canyon; she saw them pass through these, too, the soldiers stepping aside.
They reached the Canyon’s edge, the platform covered in metal spikes, and as Argon stood there, it lowered, taking them back into the depths of lower Silesia.
As they entered the lower city, Gwendolyn saw dozens of faces, the concerned, kind faces of Silesian citizens, watching her pass as if she were a spectacle. They all stared back with looks of wonder and concern as she kept descending to the main square of the city.
As they reached it, hundreds of people crowded around them. She looked out and saw familiar faces—Kendrick, Srog, Godfrey, Brom, Kolk, Atme, dozens of Silver and Legion she recognized…. They gathered around her, distress in their faces in the early morning sun, as the mist swirled in from the Canyon and a cold breeze stung her. She closed her eyes, trying to make all this go away. She felt as if she were a thing on display, and felt crushed to the depths. She felt humiliated. And she felt she had let them all down.
They continued, past all the people, through the narrow alleyways of the lower city, through another arched entranceway, and finally into the small palace of lower Silesia. Gwen faded in and out of consciousness as they entered a magnificent red castle, going up a set of stairs, down a long corridor, and through another high arched doorway. Finally, a small door opened and they entered a room.

Gwendolyn membuka matanya, merasakan dunia bergerak di sekelilingnya, dan berjuang untuk mencari tahu di mana dia berada. Dia melihat, melewatinya, gerbang batu merah besar yang melengkung di Silesia, melihat ribuan tentara Kekaisaran mengawasinya dengan heran. Dia melihat Steffen, berjalan di sampingnya, dan dia melihat ketika langit, memantul ke atas dan ke bawah. Dia sadar sedang digendong. Bahwa dia ada dalam pelukan seseorang.
Dia menjulurkan lehernya dan melihat mata Argon yang bersinar dan intens. Dia sedang dibawa, dia sadar, oleh Argon, Steffen di sisi mereka, mereka bertiga berjalan secara terbuka melalui gerbang Silesia, melewati ribuan tentara Kekaisaran, yang berpisah untuk mereka dan berdiri di sana, menatap. Mereka dikelilingi oleh cahaya putih, dan Gwendolyn bisa merasakan dirinya tenggelam dalam semacam perisai energi pelindung di lengan Argon. Dia menyadari bahwa dia sedang menggunakan semacam mantra untuk menjaga semua tentara di teluk.
Gwen merasa nyaman, terlindungi dalam pelukan Argon. Setiap otot di tubuhnya sakit, dia kelelahan, dan dia tidak tahu apakah dia bisa berjalan jika dia mencoba. Matanya bergetar ketika mereka pergi, dan dia melihat dunia melewatinya dalam potongan. Dia melihat sepotong dinding yang runtuh; tembok pembatas yang runtuh; tempat tinggal yang terbakar; tumpukan puing; dia melihat mereka menyeberang melalui halaman, mencapai gerbang terjauh, di tepi Canyon; dia melihat mereka melewati ini juga, para prajurit melangkah ke samping.
Mereka mencapai tepi Canyon, platform tertutup paku logam, dan ketika Argon berdiri di sana, itu menurunkan, membawa mereka kembali ke kedalaman Silesia bawah.
Ketika mereka memasuki kota yang lebih rendah, Gwendolyn melihat lusinan wajah, wajah warga Silesia yang baik hati, memperhatikannya berlalu seolah dia tontonan. Mereka semua balas menatap dengan ekspresi heran dan khawatir saat dia terus turun ke alun-alun kota.
Ketika mereka sampai di sana, ratusan orang berkerumun di sekitar mereka. Dia melihat keluar dan melihat wajah-wajah yang dikenalnya — Kendrick, Srog, Godfrey, Brom, Kolk, Atme, lusinan Silver dan Legion yang dia kenal…. Mereka berkumpul di sekelilingnya, kesusahan di wajah mereka di bawah sinar matahari pagi, ketika kabut berputar dari Canyon dan angin dingin menyengatnya. Dia memejamkan matanya, mencoba untuk membuat semua ini pergi. Dia merasa seolah-olah dia adalah benda yang dipamerkan, dan merasa hancur sampai ke dasar. Dia merasa terhina. Dan dia merasa telah mengecewakan mereka semua.
Mereka melanjutkan, melewati semua orang, melalui gang-gang sempit di kota bawah, melalui pintu masuk melengkung yang lain, dan akhirnya ke istana kecil Silesia bawah. Gwen memudar keluar-masuk kesadaran ketika mereka memasuki sebuah kastil merah yang megah, naik satu set tangga, menyusuri koridor panjang, dan melalui pintu melengkung tinggi lainnya. Akhirnya, sebuah pintu kecil terbuka dan mereka memasuki sebuah ruangan.

Erec looked back, puzzled.
“I’m afraid that you will think of me differently now,” she said, “since you saw what happened on the battlefield.”
Erec shook his head.
“I do not think of you differently at all,” he said. “You saved my life, and for that I’m grateful.”
She shook her head.
“But you also saw a different side of me,” she said. “You saw that I’m not normal. I’m not like everybody else. I have a power within me which I do not understand. And now I fear you will think of me as some sort of monster. As a woman you no longer want for your wife.”
Erec’s heart broke at her words, and he stepped forward, took her hands earnestly in his, and looked into her eyes with all the seriousness he could muster.
“Alistair,” he said. “I love you with everything that I am. There has never been a woman that I have loved more. And there never will be. I love all that you are. I see you no differently as anyone else. Whatever powers you have, whoever it is that you are—even if I do not understand it, I accept all of it. I’m grateful for all of it. I vowed not to pry, and I shall keep that vow. I will never ask you. Whatever it is that you are, I accept you.”
She stared back at him for a long time, then slowly broke into a smile, and her eyes fluttered with tears of relief and joy. She turned and embraced him, hugging him tightly, with everything she had.
She whispered in his ear: “Come back to me.”

Erec melihat ke belakang, bingung.
"Aku khawatir kamu akan menganggapku berbeda sekarang," katanya, "karena kamu melihat apa yang terjadi di medan perang."
Erec menggelengkan kepalanya.
"Aku sama sekali tidak memikirkanmu," katanya. "Kamu menyelamatkan hidupku, dan untuk itu aku bersyukur."
Dia menggelengkan kepalanya.
"Tapi kamu juga melihat sisi yang berbeda denganku," katanya. "Kamu melihat bahwa aku tidak normal. Saya tidak suka orang lain. Saya memiliki kekuatan dalam diri saya yang tidak saya mengerti. Dan sekarang aku khawatir kamu akan menganggapku semacam monster. Sebagai seorang wanita kamu tidak lagi menginginkan istrimu. ”
Hati Erec patah pada kata-katanya, dan dia melangkah maju, memegang tangannya dengan sungguh-sungguh, dan menatap matanya dengan keseriusan yang bisa dikerahkannya.
"Alistair," katanya. “Aku mencintaimu dengan semua yang aku miliki. Tidak pernah ada wanita yang lebih saya cintai. Dan tidak akan pernah ada. Saya suka semua yang Anda. Saya melihat Anda tidak berbeda dengan orang lain. Kekuatan apa pun yang Anda miliki, siapa pun diri Anda — bahkan jika saya tidak memahaminya, saya menerima semuanya. Saya berterima kasih atas semua itu. Saya bersumpah untuk tidak membongkar, dan saya akan menepati janji itu. Aku tidak akan pernah bertanya padamu. Apa pun itu kamu, aku menerimamu. ”
Dia balas menatapnya untuk waktu yang lama, lalu perlahan tersenyum, dan matanya berkibar karena air mata lega dan gembira. Dia berbalik dan memeluknya, memeluknya erat, dengan semua yang dia miliki.
Dia berbisik di telinganya: "Kembalilah padaku."

a position like that, a few can hold back thousands.”
All the other soldiers looked at Erec with something like hope and awe, as the room was blanketed with a thick silence.
“A bold plan, my friend,” the Duke said. “But then again, you are a bold warrior. You always have been” The Duke gestured to an attendant. “Bring me a map!”
A boy ran from the room and came back through another door holding a large scroll of parchment. He rolled it out on the table, and the soldiers gathered around, studying it.
Erec reached out and found Savaria on the map and traced a line with his finger, east, stopping at the Eastern Gulch. A narrow crevice, it sat surrounded by mountains as far as the eye could see.
“It is perfect,” a soldier said.
The others nodded, rubbing their beards.
“I have heard stories of a few dozen men holding off thousands at the gulch,” one soldier said.
“That is an old wives’ tale,” another soldier said, cynically. “Yes, we will have the element of surprise. But what else? We will not have the protection of our walls.”
“We will have the protection of nature’s walls,” another soldier countered. “Those mountains, hundreds of feet of solid cliff.”
“Nothing is safe,” Erec added. “As the Duke said, we die here, or we die out there. I say we die out there. Victory favors the bold.”
The Duke, after a long time rubbing his beard, finally nodded, leaned back and rolled up the map.
“Prepare your arms!” he called out. “We ride tonight!”
*
Erec, dressed again in full armor, his sword swinging at his waist, marched down the

posisi seperti itu, beberapa dapat menahan ribuan. "
Semua prajurit memandang Erec dengan sesuatu seperti harapan dan kekaguman, karena ruangan itu diselimuti oleh keheningan yang tebal.
"Rencana yang berani, temanku," kata Duke. "Tapi sekali lagi, kamu adalah prajurit yang berani. Kamu selalu seperti itu ”Sang Duke menunjuk seorang petugas. "Bawakan aku peta!"
Seorang anak lelaki berlari dari kamar dan kembali melalui pintu lain sambil memegang gulungan perkamen besar. Dia menggulungnya di atas meja, dan para prajurit berkumpul di sekitarnya, mempelajarinya.
Erec mengulurkan tangan dan menemukan Savaria di peta dan menelusuri garis dengan jarinya, di timur, berhenti di Gulch Timur. Sebuah celah sempit, ia duduk dikelilingi oleh gunung sejauh mata memandang.
"Ini sempurna," kata seorang prajurit.
Yang lain mengangguk, menggosok janggut mereka.
"Saya telah mendengar cerita tentang beberapa lusin pria menahan ribuan di gulch," kata seorang tentara.
"Itu adalah kisah seorang istri tua," kata seorang prajurit lain, sinis. “Ya, kita akan memiliki unsur kejutan. Tapi apa lagi? Kami tidak akan memiliki perlindungan dinding kami. "
"Kami akan memiliki perlindungan dinding alam," serdadu lain membalas. "Gunung-gunung itu, tebing kokoh setinggi ratusan kaki."
"Tidak ada yang aman," Erec menambahkan. "Seperti yang dikatakan Duke, kita mati di sini, atau kita mati di luar sana. Saya katakan kita mati di sana. Victory lebih menyukai yang berani. ”
Sang Duke, setelah lama menggosok jenggotnya, akhirnya mengangguk, bersandar ke belakang dan menggulung peta.
"Persiapkan tanganmu!" Serunya. "Kami naik malam ini!"
*
Erec, berpakaian lagi dengan baju besi lengkap, pedangnya berayun di pinggangnya, berbaris ke bawah

mountains. The road from the north is too narrow and too muddy this time of year—he would lose weeks. And from the south he would have to breach the Fjord River.”
The Duke look admiringly at Erec, rubbing his beard, thinking.
“You may be right. Andronicus may just lead his men through the gulch. For any other army it would be an act of supreme hubris. But for him, with his million men, he might just do it.”
Erec nodded.
“If we can get there, if we can beat them to it, we can surprise them, ambush them. With

gunung. Jalan dari utara terlalu sempit dan terlalu berlumpur sepanjang tahun ini — dia akan kehilangan minggu. Dan dari selatan dia harus menembus Sungai Fjord. "
Sang Duke memandang Erec dengan kagum, menggosok jenggotnya, berpikir.
"Kamu mungkin benar. Andronicus mungkin hanya memimpin anak buahnya melalui gulch. Untuk pasukan lainnya, itu akan menjadi tindakan keangkuhan tertinggi. Tetapi baginya, dengan sejuta pasukannya, ia mungkin akan melakukannya. ”
Erec mengangguk.
"Jika kita bisa sampai di sana, jika kita bisa mengalahkan mereka, kita bisa mengejutkan mereka, menyergap mereka. Dengan

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