|Chapter 3: Relapse|
"Yet you must aid him."
The hard voice pierced Linden. She turned sharply, found herself facing the First of the Search. She had been so caught up in what she was saying to Seadreamer, so locked into herself, that she had not felt the First's approach.
The First glared at her sternly. "I grant that the burden is terrible to you. That is plain." She bore herself like a woman who had made a fierce decision of her own. "But the Search has been given into his hands. It must not fail."
With a brusque movement, she drew her broadsword, held it before her as though she meant to enforce Linden's compliance with keen iron. Linden pressed her back against the rail in apprehension; but the First bent down, placed her glaive on the deck between them. Then she drew herself erect, fixed Linden with the demand of her stare. "Have you the strength to wield my blade?"
Involuntarily, Linden looked down at the broadsword. Gleaming densely in the moonlight, it appeared impossibly heavy.
"Have you the strength to lift it from where it lies?"
Linden wrenched her eyes back to the First in dumb protest.
The Swordmain nodded as if Linden had given her the reply she sought. "Nor have I the insight to act against the Giantfriend's illness. You are Linden Avery the Chosen. I am the First of the Search. We cannot bear each other's burdens."