|Chapter 18: No Other Way|
"If I can't go with you"--he told her the truth as well as he could--"I'd rather stay with my friends. Mhoram and Foamfollower." Elena and Bannor. Honninscrave. And the wait for Sunder and Hollian would not seem long to him.
She refused to hear him. "Maybe not," she rasped. "Maybe because your spirit wasn't there--your will to live. If you would just stop giving up, we might still have a chance." Her voice was husky with thwarted yearning. "You're bruised and exhausted. I don't know how you stay on your feet. But you haven't been stabbed yet." Her gaze flashed toward the faint scar in the center of his chest. "You don't have to die."
But he saw the grief in her eyes and knew that she did not believe her own protestation.
He drew her to a halt. With his good hand, he wrested his wedding band from his finger. His touch was cold and numb, as if he had no idea what he was doing. Fervent and silent as a prayer, he extended the ring toward her. Its unmarred argent cast glints of the wavering torchlight.
At once, tears welled in her eyes. Streaks of reflected fire flowed down the lines which severity and loss had left on either side of her mouth. But she gave the ring no more than a glance. Her gaze clung to his countenance. "No," she whispered. "Not while I can still hope."
Abruptly, she moved on down the passage.
Sighing rue and relief like a man who had been reprieved or damned and did not know the difference--did not care if there were no difference--he thrust the ring back into place and followed her.