‘And what would that be?’ said Hector.
‘I don’t know--what WOULD it be?’
‘Argh. Just tell me.’
‘No,’ laughed Garovel, sounding almost like a stubborn child.
‘I feel like you know the question already,’ the reaper said. ‘It seemed like you were working your way up to it. Maybe just cut to the chase and ask me, hmm?’
At first, Hector didn’t know what Garovel meant. But as he thought about it, an idea did pop into his head. It was something that had been bothering him for quite a long time now, on some level. Even before Garovel told him about this “ardor.” Perhaps even before Garovel told him about the Undercrust. There was just something about the nature of souls, about everything he’d come to learn of them during his time as a servant.
‘...Where do souls come from, exactly?’
‘That’s not the question.’
‘...Do they come from the planet?’
‘Mm. Getting warmer.’
Hector took a minute to deliberate. It was a bit of a leap, but if he supposed the answer to that last question was “yes,” then...
Hector tilted his head. ‘...Is the planet alive?’
‘There it is!’ Garovel laughed. ‘Well done, my dear boy.’
‘Nobody knows if the planet is alive?’
‘Depends on what you mean by “alive,” now doesn’t it? Certainly, if you just mean, as an ecosystem capable of supporting life, then yes, the planet is obviously alive. And the molten core is like it’s heart, and if you destroyed the core, you’d essentially be “killing” the planet, right? There’s no real debate there. But if that’s not what you mean by “alive,” then... Well. Things get a bit more difficult to figure out, to say the least.’