|Chapter 17: Charade's End|
So when the First knelt before her, placed gentle hands on her shoulders, she met the Giant's gaze. One of the First's hands accidentally brushed the bruises which Cail had left on her arm. Shuddering, she opened herself to the First's concern.
For a moment, her fearsome vulnerability and the First's arduous restraint acknowledged each other. Then the Swordmain stood, drawing Linden to her feet. Gruffly, like a refusal of tears, the First said to the company, "We must go."
Brinn and Cail nodded. They looked at Seadreamer; and he answered by stooping to Ceer, lifting the injured Haruchai carefully in his arms.
They were all ready to begin the walk to the gate.
Linden stared at them. Thickly, she asked, "What about Hergrom?"
Brinn gazed at her as if he did not understand her question.
"We can't just leave him here." Hergrom had spent his life to save the company. His body slumped against the wall like a sacrifice to the Great Desert. His blood formed a dark stain around him.
Brinn's flat eyes did not waver. "He failed."
The force of his absolute gaze stung her. His judgment was too severe; it was inhuman. Because she did not know any other way to repudiate it, she strode over the sand to strike at Brinn's detached countenance with all the weight of her arm.