“Was there anyone you were good friends with?” she’d asked, unsure why.
“Well, Maverick and I were always close. Well, as close as a pawn and the chess player can be.”
That had been the end of that conversation that day, as he’d had to go and check on Lucas, who had stupidly fallen asleep outside because he was so drunk and couldn’t find his way home.
On another occasion, Beth had asked him why he’d joined the Covenant in the first place.
He’d thought about his answer for a little while. “I’d grown up listening to my dad tell me about all the exploits of the Covenant, the siege at Paräre, the Battle of the Golden Bridge... I thought it was amazing. When I was fourteen, I ran away from home and I travelled to the mountains in the south. There were rumours of the Red Door hidden in a cave. I spent a couple of weeks looking for it. And when I found it, I looked at it in awe. It’s called the Red Door because, on it, is the blooded handprint of everyone who’s ever joined.
“I remember sitting and waiting for the guards to come and get me so I could talk to their leader. I remember the pride I felt when I placed my hand on that Door. It was like... getting into your favourite university, I suppose. I left when I was sixteen because I’d had enough. I didn’t like the way I couldn’t sleep at night, the way that everything I’d done plagued me. So I asked to leave. And I did.”
He looked down at the culture plates he was preparing for a few moments, thinking.
“It was different when I joined the Brotherhood. My initiation was unique. I’m the first Brother not to be fused with a spirit.”
“Was that because you were in the Covenant?”
“I reckon so. Robert never said anything about it; Onyx did. He did I wasn’t fit for the joining. Whenever anyone asks about the spirits, I tend to blend into the background. Caelan was lucky, apparently. The one that chose him was only young, relatively weak. So weak that it never scarred his back.”
“Maybe it knew that was your job,” Beth had joked, grinning; she’d seen Caelan’s back one morning when he was up a little earlier than the others. He’d been making toast for himself.
Zeke had laughed at it; so much, in fact, that his eyes had begun to water.
The memory of it made Beth smile—distracting her just as Elijah’s leg lashed out to knock her over. She yelped as she fell onto her side, her arms flying out to try and break her fall. Her hand hit the floor and she landed on top of her arm at an angle, making her gasp both because of being winded but also because her arm was now incredibly painful.
She rolled onto her back and gently held it against her body, trying to breathe evenly.
“You alright?” Elijah asked, concerned.
“I’m not sure,” she admitted.
“Can you move your arm?”
“I don’t want to.”
“Right, I’m taking you to Zeke,” he said decidedly.