|Chapter 8: "Lord Kevin's Lament"|
Trell's eyes held Covenant redly, as if after years of pressure they were charged with too much blood. "And I know you, Thomas Covenant." His voice came out stiffly; it sounded disused, cramped, as if he had kept it fettered for a long time, fearing that it would betray him. "Are you not satisfied? Have you come to do more harm?"
Through a roar of pounding blood in his ears, Covenant heard himself saying for the second time, "I'm sorry."
"Sorry?" Trell almost choked on the word. "Is that enough? Does it raise the dead?" For a moment, he shuddered as if he were about to break apart. His breath came in deep, hoarse gasps. Then, convulsively, he threw his strong arms wide like a man breaking bonds. Jumping forward, he caught Covenant around the chest, lifted him off the floor. With a fierce snarl, he hugged Covenant, striving to crush his ribs.
Covenant wanted to cry out, howl his pain, but he could make no sound. The vise of Trell's arms drove the air from his lungs, stunned his heart. He felt himself collapsing inwardly, destroying himself with his own pressure.
Dimly, he saw Bannor at Trell's back. Twice Bannor punched at Trell's neck. But the Gravelingas only increased his grip, growling savagely.
Someone, Troy, shouted, "Trell! Trell!"
Bannor turned and stepped away. For one frantic instant, Covenant feared that the Bloodguard was abandoning him. But Bannor only needed space for his next attack. He leaped high in the air, and as he dropped toward Trell, he chopped the Gravelingas across the base of his neck with one elbow. Trell staggered; his grip loosened. Continuing the same motion, Bannor caught Trell under the chin with his other arm. The sharp backward jerk pulled Trell off balance. As he toppled, he lost his hold on Covenant.
Covenant landed heavily on his side, retching for air. Through his dizzy gasps, he heard Troy shouting, heard the warning in Troy's voice. He looked up in time to see Trell charge toward him again. But Bannor was swifter. As Trell lunged, Bannor met him head-on, butted him with such force that he reeled backward, crashed against the wall, fell to his hands and knees.
The impact stunned him. His massive frame writhed in pain, and his fingers gouged involuntarily at the stone, as if he were digging for breath. They clenched into the floor as if it were only stiff clay. In a moment, both his fists were knotted in the rock.
Then he drew a deep shuddering breath, and snatched his hands out of the floor. He stared at the holes he had made; he was appalled to see that he had damaged stone. When he raised his head, he was panting hugely, so that his broad chest strained at the fabric of his tunic.
Bannor and Troy stood between him and Covenant. The Warmark held his sword poised. "Remember your Oath!" he commanded sharply. "Remember what you swore. Don't betray your own life."
Tears started running soundlessly from Trell's eyes as he stared past the Warmark at Covenant. "My Oath?" he rasped. "He brings me to this. What Oath does he take?"