‘There is only one thing that I can do.’ Saranna stood in the middle of the cave, peering round at her friends in the dim lamplight. ‘I have to go into the desert to find the people who dwell there – I know in my heart that among them I will find an answer to the sorrows and pains of this land.’
‘And I will go with you, lady.’ Mara rose from her place beside Arnett, and came to stand beside Saranna. The princess shrieked, startling the little ones into tears.
‘You cannot leave me, Mara – what shall I do without you?’
Then everyone was speaking, cutting across one another, all trying to convince Saranna and Mara that they must not, could not, go on this journey into the dry lands. After a while, Mor-Len looked around the cave entrance and said, ‘Begging your pardon, my friends, but I must suggest you try to be quieter. If some patrol comes out along the south road, they will hear us. Indeed, we should all be moving on, due south seems good to me but I cannot help you all to decide whether or not the lady should follow her own way.’
‘I must!’ she repeated, glaring at them all.
‘Then I must come too,’ said Mara.
‘And I.’ Arnett stood and walked to her handmaid’s side.
‘And me, lady!’ Ar-Nen scampered across the cave and grabbed Saranna’s hand. Slowly Tamnet rose, and saying, ‘I am sorry, Torik,’ she took her place with the others.
‘Mercy,’ Gennet cried out, ‘what is to become of me and master Torik with all these little ones?’