|Chapter 26: Gallows Howe|
The Warmark winced eyelessly under repeated blows of realization, and within him a gale brewed. He seemed to see Elena in his mind--remember her, taste her beauty, savor all the power of sight which she had taught him. He seemed to see her useless, solitary end. "Lost?" he panted as his fury grew. "Lost? Alone?"
All at once, he erupted. With a livid howl, he raged at Covenant, "Do you call that love?! Leper! Unbeliever!"--he spat the words as if they were the most damning curses he knew--"This is all just a game for you! Mental tricks. Excuses. You're a leper! A moral leper! You're too selfish to love anyone but yourself. You have the power for everything, and you won't use it. You just turned your back on her when she needed you. You--despicable--leper! Leper!" He shouted with such force that the muscles of his neck corded. The veins in his temples bulged and throbbed as if he were about to burst with execration.
Covenant felt the truth of the accusation. His bargain exposed him to such charges, and Troy hit the heart of his vulnerability as if some prophetic insight guided his blindness. Covenant's right hand twitched in a futile fending motion. But his left clung to his chest as if to localize his shame in that one place. When Troy paused to gather himself for another assault, Covenant said weakly, "Unbelief has got nothing to do with it. She was my daughter."
"My daughter." Covenant pronounced it like an indictment. "I raped Trell's child. Elena was his granddaughter."
"Your daughter." Troy was too stunned to shout. Implications like glimpses of depravity rocked him. He groaned as if Covenant's crimes were so multitudinous that he could not hold them all in his mind at one time.
Mhoram spoke to him carefully, "My friend--this is the knowledge which I have withheld from you. The witholding gave you unintended pain. Please pardon me. The Council feared that this knowledge would cause you to abominate the Unbeliever."
"Damn right," Troy panted. "Damn right."