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Emiliana decided to speak up. ‘Do you know what is happening outside right now?’
‘The fighting, I mean. You can sense it? My father and everyone?’
She hesitated. ‘Do you know who is going to win?’
Rasalased fell quiet a moment. ‘No. There are too many choices. But without all of you there, I predict the Marauder will be victorious. He will have much help.’
‘Without us?’ said Emiliana. ‘What difference can we make?’
Hector saw that one coming, though he was surprised there was no mention of holding true or whatever.
‘I have another question,’ said Emiliana.
‘The answer is no,’ said Rasalased.
‘You cannot stay here,’ he elaborated. ‘That was your question, no? You wish to stay and meditate. To grow. And return stronger. This is a reasonable desire. But you must not.’
‘Why?’ said Emiliana. ‘If we’re stronger, we can help. And time is slower in here, so--’
‘Time is not time. If you remain with me, my soul will consume yours. You will all disappear.’
‘Oh,’ said Garovel. ‘Well, that’s unfortunate.’
‘Thank you for telling us,’ said Chergoa, ‘rather than letting us find out the hard way.’
‘I suppose that explains why you can read our thoughts,’ said Garovel. ‘Because they’re slowly becoming YOUR thoughts, hmm?’
‘Yes,’ said Rasalased. ‘I must release you now. I wish you well. Each of you.’
‘Anything else to tell us before we go?’ asked Garovel.
‘You will be weakened.’
‘Resist, but do not fight. Hold true and see.’
The world shuddered, blackness and perception trembling together.
And Hector tried to brace himself.