Chapter Eighteen

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The sun, almost at full height, struck Sherath warmly on his shoulders through the jacket. But not quite warmly enough to dispel the cold that ate into his bones. He sat on Moondust's back, content to be merely a passenger.

Tarke glanced across at him, using Awareness very lightly.

I can feel it, Tarke, he said, smiling. Very subtle, but still there.

That took more out of you than you're prepared to admit, Sherath.

– How can I deny it – to you? You keep wandering into my mind.

– If it hadn't taken so much out of you, you would be shutting me out.

– Never.

– No? Who do you think you're kidding? She smiled. Sherath, you're burning yourself out.

I had to use it all. We would never have got through without it. I had no idea he would fight quite so hard, even asleep.

– I'm glad Piet and Karinna were there. It helped to have someone who knew him so well.

– In spite of everything, I couldn't find it in me to hate him, Tarke. Okay, he's spent all his adult life being mistrustful and hateful...

– And violent, Tarke added.

I wonder if that woman he killed was also half-Elven. If that was why he lost control.

– He didn't only kill her, Sherath. It was what went before that was hurting him so much.

– And yet he loved her, in his own way. And has never felt the loss – never allowed himself to.

– Poor Bern. He has all that yet to come.

– Yes. I wish we could have helped more than we did. When he wakes up he's going to realise what it was that he lost.

– You can't solve everyone's problems for them. I know you'd like to – but there are things that people have to do for themselves. And if I had let you solve that problem for him as well, Sherath, you would have been in danger of outrunning your own strength. We can't afford to have you burnt out for three days or more. I know you're incredibly strong, but you haven't yet got half the strength that you will have. You have all the Awareness of what you should be able to do as an enabled adult; and all the wish to do it. But with all the will in the world, you are not yet what you will be. One leaf is not enough. She grinned at him. I can see enough of you to know what you will be. Can you?

Sherath laughed. – I will be asleep soon. That is all I know. Piet was sorry to lose the unicorns, wasn't he?

– Yes. I suppose that herd they have has continued to breed unicorns because they knew that there was so much Elvish blood in those people. Even if the people didn't. The first unicorn probably came there with Karinna's ancestors. Piet's line is a much more recent addition.

– There are at least two unicorn foals that will be born next year; I felt their Presence. And there will be more. Sherath looked over to Tarke and smiled. It's good to have unicorns back, Tarke. We have been so long without them.

Beneath him, Moondust whickered softly is also good to have Elves back, Sherath. We have missed you, too. His thought was echoed by the filly.

"YES!" Sherath shouted. "Yes, ye gods, yes! Tarke?"

"Yes, I Hear them. Oh, Sherath.... what is happening?"

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