“Then that means its more than just you and the khrall. There are other species. How many ren’al are there?”
He was almost gone.
“As many as were/will be are necessary now/then.”
“Necessary?” I asked. “For what? What are they for? I know what they can do, but you never told me what you used them for.”
But I was talking to my tent. The wind whispered its names against the walls. I wept, not knowing why. I’d gotten information but no more answers. I’d asked the wrong questions. I’d found out more about the war among the stars and nothing about the one inside my skull. I still hadn’t sorted out if I was talking to Suriel or the Swarm or the blackbrain or only to myself – or if that difference mattered.
Three of them, I thought. One for me, one for Jerem Cozak, one for someone else. Who? I wondered. Who was the other one for? And what would another Niskivim be like? The ones I’d seen on the battlefield all looked like Suriel, but in person he felt utterly unique, like there could not possibly be another of his kind.
A ghost of a thought. I didn’t feel awful at the moment. I had been too caught up in everything. Distraction helped. That’s when I conceived of sending for my personal aide. The next night, we wrestled almost till the dawn. He had the youth and stamina, I had the inchoate yearning. Flip the damn switch. A couple times. It took a while. And didn’t feel like much anyway.
After, I went to resume my customary vigil. He slept. I let him be. There are no secrets, anyway, not among the army of the dead. The White Swarm won’t allow it. I slid through the tent flap to see a mournful fog. Warm air come from the waist of the world. There was no sound. It was like the earth was wrapped in gauze. The dripping awning remained high enough to permit standing, if one was of no more than ordinary height. I stood. I saw little further than the edge of the cliffs.