|Chapter 16: Forced March|
He would have to win.
If he did not, then he was more than a failure; he was an active evil--a piece of treachery perpetrated against the Land in defiance of his own love or volition--worse than Covenant, for Covenant at least tried to avoid the lie of being trusted. But he, Hile Troy, had deliberately sought trust, responsibility, command--
No, that thought was intolerable. He had to win, had to win.
When he had passed the crest of the south hill, he slowed Mehryl to a better traveling pace, and allowed Lord Mhoram and the remaining eighteen Bloodguard to catch up with him. Then he said through his teeth, biting down on his voice to avoid accusing Mhoram, "Why is she taking him? He raped Trell's daughter."
Mhoram responded gently, "Warmark Troy, my friend, you must understand that the High Lord has little choice. The way of her duty is narrow, and beset with perils. She must seek out the Seventh Ward. And she must take ur-Lord Covenant with her--because of the white gold. With the Staff of Law, she must ensure that his ring does not fall into Lord Foul's hands. And if he turns against the Land, she must be near him--to fight him."
Troy nodded to himself. That was reasoning he could comprehend. Abruptly, he shook himself, forced down his instinctive protest. With an effort, he unclenched his teeth, and sighed. "I'll tell you something, Mhoram. When I'm done with this war--when I can look back and tell myself that poor Atiaran is satisfied--I'm going to take a vacation for a few years. I'm going to sit down in Andelain and not move a muscle until I get to see the Celebration of Spring. Otherwise I'm never going to be able to forgive that damn Covenant for being luckier than I am." But he meant luckier in another way. Though he realized now that no other choice was possible, he ached to think that Elena had chosen Covenant, not him.
If Mhoram understood him, however, the Lord tactfully followed what he had said rather than what he meant. "Ah, if we are victorious"--Mhoram was smiling, but his tone was serious--"you will not be alone. Half the Land will be in Andelain when next the dark of the moon falls on the middle night of spring. Few who yet live have seen the Dance of the Wraiths of Andelain."
"Well, I'm going to get there first," Troy muttered, trying to sustain this conversation. But then he could not keep himself from reverting to the subject of the Unbeliever. "Mhoram, don't you resent him? After what he's done?"
Evenly and openly, Lord Mhoram said, "I have no special virtue to make me resent him. One must have strength in order to judge the weakness of others. I am not so mighty."
This answer surprised Troy. For a moment, he stared at Mhoram, asking silently, Is that true? Do you believe that? But he could see that Mhoram did believe it. Baffled, Troy turned away.