“I cannot trust you,” the Judge said, “because you do not know yourself. Your feelings are convoluted.”
Justin was in his mind. The Judge, Rigel, was pacing before him, his dirty-gray coat shimmering.
“I know myself,” Justin said. “I know myself and my enemy.”
Rigel gazed at him. His eyes were deep. They did not invade, but drew. Drawing Justin’s feelings from him. Even though he didn’t know what they were. “And who is your enemy?”
Justin turned away from Rigel’s gaze.
“Ah. You do not know. A wise man once said that your enemy is the shadow of yourself. If you do not know your shadow, you cannot know what makes it.”
“I read that. The Tao right?”
“It is pronounced ‘dao’.”
Justin moved away. “Why are you here? Why when everyone is sleeping?”
A note of amusement tingled in the air between Justin and Rigel. “To…judge you.”
Justin started. He had felt that. Felt the emotion. He turned to Rigel. “Did you…?”
“No. That was you. You are learning—the part of your mind that not even we can access is adapting to the Thin Place. And that is why I must Judge you now, before it is too late.” Rigel moved so he could meet Justin’s eyes. He drew again.
“Too late? What? How could I be a threat to you? It’s not like anyone would believe me—if I even thought it would do anything to try to turn you it. They would call me crazy.”
“As a man, you are of little threat,” Rigel rumbled softly. “But as a Ruler, as a Prophet, you are infinitely more dangerous.”
“I’m not the Prophet. Daldion is. I thought you knew that.”
“Only for now. You will grow closer, until you function as one. Then you will be Prophet and Ruler—and that had never been.”
Justin help Rigel’s gaze. He felt the draw. He as tired of it. Tired of being not told the whole story. He drew back.
Rigel gave a surprised grunt. He tried to pull away, his mind voice silent. It was the strangled grunts of a wolf now.
“Still!” Justin commanded. And Rigel stilled as Justin drew.
He was on a hill—a human standing in victory. Over the wolves, over his fellow Pack members. Four wolves lay slain at his feet, four more bowed before him. Four humans, three men and a woman, lay dead. No—five men.
The other Pack was slain and his own bowed in submission to his power. All but Buncombe and Francisco. Who were dead.
Justin blinked and Rigel broke free. They both were gasping, but Rigel had had the worst of it. He was shaking his head as if trying to divulge something from it.
Finally, the brown wolf looked up. “I felt. I saw. That is my fear—my vision. Given to me by—”
“Buncombe, Rigel. Not me. Not by the Prophet. Not by the one whose gift is to foresee.” Daldion had come upon them unnoticed, his gray paws silent on the mist ground of Justin’s mind.
“A vision is a vision, Daldion,” Rigel said. “Even if it is merely a fear.”
“Fear is cannot be allowed to guide our actions, Rigel.” Daldion looked angry. Angrier than Justin had ever seen him. “That is Buncombe’s fear—his fantasy. Do not take it as your own. He is your companion, not your better and not your leader. What he thinks he knows is not fact or even valid prediction.”
“He is wise, Daldion. He knows the dangers as well as any of us do.”
Daldion rose up, his golden eyes flashing. “He…does…not.” The fur on Daldion’s neck was rising. The gray wolf took a step forward. “Begone from this mind.”
Rigel fled, vanishing into the darkness beyond.
Turning to Justin, Daldion looked him in the eye. “Come,” he said, his wrath gone. “I will show you my mind.”
He led his Ruler to the edge, to the cliff, and beyond.