|Chapter 17: Into the Wightwarrens|
Linden started after him, then turned back to Pitchwife. He still stood on the rim of the hill, gazing down into the River's rush as if it would carry his heart away. Though he was half again as tall as Linden, his deformed spine and grotesque features made him appear old and frail. His mute aching was as tangible as tears. Because of it, she put everything else aside for a moment.
"He was telling the truth about that, anyway. He doesn't need you to fight for him. Not anymore." Pitchwife lifted his eyes like pleading to her. Fiercely, she went on, "And if he's wrong, I can stop him." That also was true: the Sunbane and Ravers and Andelain's hurt had made her capable of it. "The First is the one who needs you. She can't beat Foul with just a sword--but she's likely to try. Don't let her get herself killed." Don't do that to yourself. Don't sacrifice her for me.
His visage sharpened like a cry. His hands opened at his sides to show her and the desert sky that they were empty. Moisture blurred his gaze. For a moment, she feared he would say farewell to her; and hard grief clenched her throat. But then a fragmentary smile changed the meaning of his face.
"Linden Avery," he said clearly, "have I not affirmed and averred to all who would hear that you are well Chosen?"
Stooping toward her, he kissed her forehead. Then he hurried after the First and Covenant.
When she had wiped the tears from her cheeks, she followed him.