I frowned. “I think I just dreamed something very much the same,” I said. “Everything I did before the fall of Ariel seems like another life entirely. But I acted as I did simply because I was myself. Now I think I do the same again, I act because I am myself. But to that old self I am a stranger.”
He closed his eyes. “It is as you say. We choose and name our reasons afterward. It is even more with me.”
“Are you still human, then?”
He frowned. “I am becoming human, because I make others human too.”
We watched together as the skiff approached. I took up the oculars again and, when I found the mastodons again, a curious thing happened: on the northern flank of the herd, a bunch of the great beasts ...flickered. They moved in and out of sight as quickly as though they were that species of insect that flashes its hindparts in the night. But this was bright daylight, and these were great warm-blooded mammals. I gasped.
“Ah,” said Jerem Cozak, when I explained my surprise. “Good. Already they learn the new biology.”
I shook my head. “I don’t understand.”
“Julius has told me that during the Profusion, the swamps of Redmarak were gardens of delight. Part of that was the hunting of exotic animals. The White Swarm learned something there, just as it learned in the hidden valley of the mastodons, which were not native to this world.”
“Perhaps this whole world, then, all of Thaeron, was built for human pleasure.”
He sighed, shaking his head. “We have too many weapons. Such war should not be possible.”
Still the skiff approached. Jerem Cozak did not repeat the trick with his hands again. Now and then one of the soldiers glanced out toward the craft as well. When the person paddled close, Jerem Cozak hung his head and sighed. Our ally was a man in white armor who carried himself both proudly and sad. We waited while his skiff was raised up with chains hung over the greatship’s sides. When he climbed out onto the deck, I saw immediately from his posture that he commanded an army, and from his expression he only smiled for those that wanted it.