|Chapter 10: The Banefire|
Then the Master turned toward his companions; and Covenant nearly broke. He did not need Linden's percipience to see what had happened, did not need to hear her anguished whisper. He had witnessed such horrors before. And Honinscrave's plight was plain.
He stood as if he were still himself. His fists clenched as if he knew what he was doing. But his face was flowing like an hallucination, melting back and forth between savage glee and settled grim resolve. He was Grimmand Honninscrave, the Master of Starfare's Gem. And he was samadhi Sheol, the Raver that had led the Clave in Gibbon's body.
At war with each other.
The entire battle was internal. Red flared into his eyes and glazed away. Grins bared his teeth, were fought back. Snarling laughter choked in his throat. When he spoke, his voice cracked and seized under the strain.
At once, his voice scaled upward out of control, crying, "Madman! Madman!"
He forced it down again. "Earthfriend. Hear me." The effort seemed to tear the muscles of his face. Helpless with power, Covenant watched in fever as Honninscrave wrestled for possession of his soul. Through his teeth, the Giant articulated like a death-gasp, "Heed the bidding of your despair. It must be done."
At once, several piercing shrieks burst from him--the Raver's staccato anguish, or Honninscrave's. "Help him," Linden panted. "Help him. Dear God." But there was nothing anybody could do. She alone had the capacity to interfere in such a struggle--and if she made the attempt, Covenant meant to stop her. If samadhi Sheol sprang from Honninscrave to her, it would have access to the wild magic through her.
Retching for air, Honniscrave gained the mastery.
"You must slay me." The words bled from his lips, but they were distinct and certain. His face turned murderous, then regained its familiar lines. "I will contain this Raver while you slay me. In that way, it also will be slain. And I will be at peace."
Sheol writhed for freedom; but Honninscrave held.
"I beg of you."
Covenant let out a groan of fire, but it went nowhere near the Giant. The First gripped her sword in both fists until her arms trembled; but her tears blinded her, and she could not move. Cail folded his arms across his chest as if he were deaf.
Linden was savage with suppressed weeping. "Give me a knife. Somebody give me a knife."