|Chapter 8: The Defenders of the Land|
Covenant huddled into himself. He needed desperately to cry out and could not--needed to hurl outrage and frenzy at the blind sky and was blocked from any release by the staggering peril of his power. He had fallen into the Despiser's trap, and there was no way out.
When he heard feet ascending behind him, he covered his face to keep himself from pleading abjectly for help.
He could not read the particular emanations of his companions. He did not know who was approaching him. Vaguely, he expected Sunder or Pitchwife. But the voice which sighed his name like an ache of pity or appeal was Linden's.
He lurched erect to meet her, though he had no courage for her concern, which he had not earned.
The moon sheened her hair as if it were clean and lovely. But her features were in shadow; only the tone of her voice revealed her mood. She spoke as if she knew how close he was to breaking.
As softly as a prayer, she breathed, "Let me try."
At that something in him did break. "Let you?" he fumed suddenly. He had no other way to hold back his grief. "I can hardly prevent you. If you're so all-fired bloody eager to be responsible for the world, you don't need my permission. You don't even need the physical ring. You can use it from there. All you have to do is possess me."
"Stop," she murmured like an echo of supplication, "stop." But his love for her had become anguish, and he could not call it back.
"It won't even be a new experience for you. It'll be just like what you did to your mother. The only difference is that I'll still be alive when you're done."
Then he wrenched himself to a halt, gasping with the force of his desire to retract his jibe, silence it before it reached her.