“The war has come here,” said Lytica. “A woman and a boy has come here from one of the tribes. We are lowering them down the cliff so that they may flee to Caliet.”
Presently two more monks appeared, wearing large packs. They took over the rope tying on the balcony as the woman and boy entered the room.
“Astoba,” Padaver gasped.
Uruban ran into his arms, making Padaver yelp. He grimaced, then smiled, kissing the top of his son’s head fondly a few times.
“Oh, my son, my son,” he wept, holding their heads together.
When he broke from their embrace, Padaver looked at Astoba.
“Where is Essodil?”
“The southmen,” she said regretfully.
Padaver dropped his head. “She did not love me. We would not have ever reconciled, but I would never have seen her dead either,” he said brokenly.
“We are ready now,” said one of the monks from the balcony.
He began to slip a rope harness around Astoba. Uruban looked longingly at his father.
“You must go with them,” said Padaver. “I cannot go with you.”
“Here, Uruban,” said one of the other monks.
He went to slip a harness over the boy. Uruban eluded the rope, and stared at Lytica, making him feel uncomfortable.
“What does he want?”
“My boy rarely speaks, but he often says much,” said Padaver.
Astoba nodded in confirmation.
Uruban’s eyes watered as he reached for Lytica’s hand, and led him to take hold of his father’s.
“Promise,” the boy said.
The enormity of Uruban’s wishes fell on Lytica all at once… keep my father alive.
“He cannot promise such a thing,” said Padaver.
Lytica knelt by the boy, holding his hand as he looked into his eyes. True, he could not guarantee Padaver’s life, but if he was to die, Lytica would ensure he fell first.
“No one will come to the father, except through me,” he said.
Something about his words registered as satisfaction in Uruban’s eyes. With a nod from Lytica, the monk, slipped the ropes around the boy and secured them.
“I must leave now,” said Lytica, walking out the door.
He looked over his shoulder on the way out. Padaver stared hopefully after the last of his village escaping over the balcony rail.