Chapter 13 - The Sword of the Sun

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"'Do not weep for might-have-beens,' whispered the flowers to the rain. 'The healing light that's promised us will find its way back home again.'"

—Bellamy Clayhaus Martin, Prophet of the Light.

They huddled around a small campfire. Jaylina couldn't speak, couldn't look Michael in the eye.

The books, the tomes, the knowledge, the eons of sweat and ink that went into the collection of information so incredibly vast it was almost beyond comprehension was gone, all gone, well, almost all except for the single book she'd held onto and the ash still clinging to the loose strands of her long hair.

Torched by the Left Hand of Light to rescue his failed Astral Navigator from destruction. It was senseless.

She wanted to scream, to shout at him, to demand why he'd made such a poor sacrifice but instead she just rocked herself as they both stared into the waning firelight. The sun would be up soon.

It was Michael who spoke first.

"The reason," he said.

Jaylina continued rocking.

Michael cleared his throat and began again. "The reason you said you couldn't find the sword. So what was it?"

Jaylina stopped rocking.

"It's you," she croaked, almost an accusation. "You're the reason."

A confused look crossed his face as he pondered that for several minutes.

"Explain," he demanded.

Jaylina sighed. The library was a place she could have stayed in a city she could have made a new home. A place to be invisible gathering information by sunlight in the mornings and candlelight in the evenings. A place to forget everything in search of something more, her purpose.

All a fiery ruin.

"Desire," she said. "Emotion works against us in the astral plane. Our emotions are a weak tidal force, but your desire for the sword, for revenge, is like the power of the moon raising the sea. There is no path to the sword with you in the astral plane."

"What then?" asked Michael.

"I'll go alone."

"And what of your body?"

"You'll have to carry me."

Michael grunted. Jaylina realized Michael meant to do it if that was what was required. He would carry her to the end of the Southern Continent and back if need be...if she asked.

The thought made Jaylina chuckle. Michael looked at her sideways as she tried to contain herself. Then she giggled. Finally, she laughed. She laughed until tears came from her eyes and she snorted. Then her unexpected laughter became almost hysterical, a mourning of sorts for the brief fantasy she'd lost of making a life near the library.

What a life it would have been!

Jaylina let it free, laughing, wailing and howling until it eventually wound down to a long-protracted sigh.

She wiped her face and looked at Michael who was staring at her, agog.

This caused her to burst into laughter again, this time with the relief of truly letting go, until it wound down again.

The truth was her fantasy was a lie. The library died when the soul catcher entered it, taking residence as its sole librarian. After that it became a trap, like the lair of a spider. What else could the Left Hand of Light do but purge the Darkness?

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