I asked him again how he knew. “This is part of the myths of the first Faith, the valley where the mastodons were reborn. But I never expected...there’s so much exaggeration in the stories of the people. Mastodons eat grasses that grow only in Sepira.”
He smiled; I believe it was for the first time that day. “So says the Temple of the History of the Profusion. But when you are lost in the mountains, you follow the sun, as we have done from Ariel, and as the first Faith would have coming to it. To the west the mountains are higher and more impassable.”
“And this place specifically?”
“We have followed the easiest paths to descend, though we ourselves were going uphill.”
“And if any part of the legend was wrong?”
He smiled again. “Then we would have failed. But we would not have succeeded in any other way.”
I closed my eyes, let the sun glow against my lids. “And what is this success? What have we accomplished?”
But Jerem Cozak had already turned to rouse the Never-born. Our midday break had passed, and I had spent it standing. He had made all the Never-born sit down, but I had wanted answers.
Marcus and Julius had the men break out their armor. Far below us, some of the mastodons trumpeted. Surely we were not going to fight them. We only had modern metal, cursed with all the limitations of the new. It did not mend itself, and weighed on limbs and body. Our swords did not pulse with the energy of the Profusion, and would be lucky to cut through our own plain steel.
I went to the rear and clad myself. Or I tried to, before Marcus scowled and began to tie straps and grips in place. I felt I couldn’t move, but he had carried my armor all this way regardless. I soon began to sweat. I could not imagine, now, being one of his officers, who marched always in this fashion.