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.He was the embodiment of weary purpose.Only his will kept him upright and moving.Toward the magic flow.I do not know where I found my own will to resist it.Possibly it was because I had paused and focused myself on Verity for an instant, and seen all the world would lose if he ceased to exist as himself.Whatever the source of my strength, I pitted it against his.I threw myself into his path but he walked through me.There was nothing to me, here.“Verity, please, stop, wait!” I cried and flung myself at him, a furious feather on the wind.I had no effect on him.He didn't even pause.“Someone has to do it,” he said quietly.Three steps later he added, “For a time, I hoped it would not be me.But over and over, I have asked myself, 'Who else, then?'” He turned to look at me with those burnt-to-ashes eyes.“No other answer has ever come.It has to be me.”“Verity, stop,” I pleaded, but he continued to walk.Not hurrying, not lagging, but simply trudging along the way a man does when he has measured the distance he must go and matched his strength to it.He had the endurance to get there if he walked.I withdrew a bit, feeling my strength ebbing.For a moment, I feared I would lose him by being drawn back to my sleeping body.Then I realized an equally potent fear.Linked so long, and even now being pulled along after him, I might find myself drowned alongside him in that vein of magic.If I had had a body in that realm, I probably would have seized onto something and held on.As I pleaded with Verity to stop and listen to me, I instead anchored myself in the only other way I could imagine.I reached with my Skill, grasping after those others whose lives touched mine: Molly, my daughter, Chade and the Fool, Burrich and Kettricken.I had no true Skill links with any of them so my grip was a tenuous one at best, lessened by my frantic fear that at any moment Will or Carrod or even Burl might somehow become aware of me.It seemed to me that it slowed Verity.“Please wait,” I said again.“No,” he said quietly.“Don't seek to dissuade me, Fitz.It's what I have to do.”I had never thought to measure my Skill-strength against Verity's.I had never imagined we could be opposed to each other.But as I proceeded to batter myself against him, I felt very much like a child kicking and screaming as his father calmly carried him off to bed.Verity not only ignored my attack, I sensed that his will and concentration were elsewhere.He moved implacably on toward the black flow, and my consciousness was borne along with him.Self-preservation lent a frantic new strength to my struggles.I strove to push him away, to drag him back, but it availed me nothing.But there was a terrible duality to my struggle.I longed for him to win.If he overpowered me and dragged me down with him, then I need take no responsibility for it.I could open myself to that flow of power and be quenched in it.It would be an end to all torments, surcease at last.I was so tired of doubts and guilts, so weary of duties and debts.If Verity carried me into that flow of Skill with him I could finally surrender with no shame.There came a moment when we stood on the brink of that iridescent flow of power.I stared down at it with his eyes.There was no gradual shore.Instead there was a knife's edge brink where solid earth gave way to a streaming otherness.I stared at it, seeing it as a foreign thing in our world, a warping of our very world's nature.Ponderously Verity lowered himself to one knee.He stared into that black luminescence.I did not know if he hesitated to say farewell to our world, or if he paused to gather his will to destroy himself.My will to resist was suspended.This was a door to an otherness I could not even imagine.Hunger and curiosity drew us closer to the brink.In the next moment he plunged his hands and forearms into the magic.I shared that sudden knowledge with him.So I screamed with him as the hot current ate the flesh and muscle from his arms.I swear I felt the acid lick of it across the bared bones of his fingers and wrist and forearm.I knew his pain.Yet it was crowded from his features by the rapturous smile that overwhelmed his face.My link with him was suddenly a clumsy thing that barred me from sensing in full what he felt.I longed to be beside him, to bare my own flesh to that magic river.I shared his conviction that he could end all pain if only he would give in and plunge the rest of himself into the stream.So easy.All he had to do was lean forward a bit and let go.He crouched over the stream on his knees, sweat dripping from his face only to disappear as tiny puffs of steam when it fell into the flow.His head was bowed, and his shoulders moved up and down with the strength of his panting.Then he begged me suddenly, in a tiny voice, “Pull me back.”I had not had the strength to oppose his determination.But when I joined my will to his and together we fought the terrible allure of the power, it was just enough.He was able to draw his forearms and hands free from the stuff, though it felt as if he drew them out of solid stone.It gave him up reluctantly and as he staggered back I sensed in full for a moment what he had shared: There was the oneness of the world flowing there, like a single sweet note drawn purely out.It was not the song of humanity but an older, greater song of vast balances and pure being.Had Verity surrendered to it, it would have ended all his torments.Instead, he tottered to his feet and turned away from it.He carried his forearms stretched out before him, palms up, the fingers curled into cups as if he begged something.In shape they had not changed.But now arms and fingers gleamed silver with the power that had penetrated and fused with his flesh.As he began to walk away from the stream with the same studied purposefulness with which he had approached it, I felt how his arms and hands burned as if with frostbite.“I don't understand,” I said to him.“I don't want you to.Not yet.” I felt a duality in him.The Skill burned in him like a forge-fire of incredible heat, but the strength of his body was only sufficient to keep him walking.It was effortless for him to shield my mind from the pull of that river now.But for him to move his own body up the path taxed both his flesh and his will.“Fitz.Come to me.Please.” It was no Skill order this time, not even the command of a prince, only the plea of a man to another.“I have no coterie, Fitz.Only you.If the coterie that Galen created for me had been true, then I would have more faith that what I must do is possible.Yet not only are they false to me, but they seek to defeat me.They peck at me like birds on a dying buck.I do not think their attacks can destroy me, but I fear they may weaken me enough that I do not succeed.Or worse yet, that they may distract me and succeed in my place.We cannot allow that, boy.You and I are all that stand between them and their triumph.You and I.The Farseers.”I was not there in any physical sense.Yet he smiled at me and lifted one terrible gleaming hand to cup my face.Did he intend what he did? I do not know.The jolt was as powerful as if a warrior had slammed his shield into my face.But not pain.Awareness.Like sunlight bursting through clouds to illuminate a clearing in the forest.Everything suddenly stood out clearly, and I saw all the hidden reasons and purposes for what we did, and I understood with a painful purity of enlightenment why it was necessary I follow the path before me.Then all was gone, and I dwindled off into blackness [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]