|Chapter 7: Physician's Plight|
Linden was no longer looking at him. She had bowed her head, braced her forehead in her palms; but her hands did not hide the silent tears streaming down her cheeks. "That was before I knew anything about power." With an honesty that dismayed him, she exposed the root of her distress. "I could've saved Hamako. I could've saved them all. You were so close to erupting. I could've taken your wild magic and torn out that croyel's heart. I'm no danger to the Arch of Time. None of them had to die."
Dread burned like shame across his face. He knew she spoke the truth. Her health-sense was still growing. Soon she would become capable of anything. He swallowed a groan. "Why didn't you?"
"I was watching you!" she flung back at him in sudden anguish. "Watching you tear your arm apart. I couldn't think about anything else."
The sight of her pain enabled him to take hold of himself, fight down his instinctive panic. He could not afford to be afraid. She needed something better from him.
"I'm glad you didn't," he said. "Never mind what it would've done to me. I'm glad you didn't for his sake." Thinking of her mother, he added deliberately, "You let him achieve the meaning of his own life."
At that, her head jerked up; her gaze knifed at him. "He died!" she hissed like an imprecation too fierce and personal to be shouted. "He saved your life at least twice, and he spent his own life serving the Land you claim to care so much about, and the people that adopted him were nearly wiped off the face of the Earth, and he died!"
Covenant did not flinch. He was ready now for anything she might hurl at him. His own nightmares were worse than this. And he would have given his soul for the ability to match Hamako. "I'm not glad he died. I'm glad he found an answer."