|Chapter 10: The Celebration of Spring|
... Atiaran fled northward. And Covenant followed her, running as if the ur-vile blades were striking at his back. The stars gave them enough light. They drove themselves up the slope, not looking to see if they were pursued, not caring about the packs they left behind--afraid to think of anything except their need for distance. As they passed over the rim of the bowl, the sounds of slaughter were abruptly dimmed. They heard no pursuit. But they ran on--ran, and still ran, and did not stop until they were caught in midstride by a short scream, full of agony and failed strength.
At the sound, Atiaran fell to her knees and dropped her forehead to the earth, weeping openly. "He is dead!" she wailed. "The Unfettered One, dead! Alas for the Land! All my paths are ill, and destruction fills all my choices. From the first, I have brought wrong upon us. Now there will be no more Celebrations, and the blame is mine!" Raising her face to Covenant, she sobbed, "Take your staff and strike me, Unbeliever!"
Blankly, Covenant stared into the pooled hurt of her eyes. He felt benumbed with pain and grief and wasted rage, and did not understand why she castigated herself. He stooped for the staff, then took her arm and lifted her to her feet. Stunned and empty, he led her onward into the night until she had cried out her anguish and could stand on her own again. He wanted to weep himself, but in his long struggle with the misery of being a leper he had forgotten how, and now he could only keep on walking. He was aware as Atiaran regained control of herself and pulled away from him that she accused him of something. Throughout the sleepless night of their northward trek, he could do nothing about it.