Lorda and Murdul circled the tower to join Jonrah, who remained sat on the floor, wiping tears from his eyes with a newfound determination.
Murdul broke the silence.
‘Lorda has informed me of your situation, Jonrah. I understand that you are angry with me and the rest of The Fall, and so…’
‘No. It is not your fault. I need to accept that there is little that we can do,’ argued Jonrah.
‘The Fall is only several hundred men, my friend,’ Lorda explained. ‘Our numbers would be useless against the thousands of The Eden. The Guards of the kingdoms will have to make the situation their own priority.’
‘I understand. Then I will continue searching for my son.’
‘We will continue searching for your son,’ Lorda emphasised. He smiled at Jonrah, who smiled appreciatively back.
‘I cannot come with you,’ Murdul said. ‘I must find my brothers and sisters of The Fall, and we must continue to protect the East. We were forced to separate into smaller groups to avoid capture, but my faction was brutally slaughtered, except for me and one other. He was captured, but I eluded the enemy. However, when I returned to the tower to free him, he was already dead, and I was doomed to imprisonment.’
‘So you must find the other factions and rejoin them?’ Jonrah asked.
‘It will be a long and difficult search, but when I am rejoined with them…’ Murdul trailed off.
‘Father?’ Lorda was concerned for Murdul, whose mood had suddenly dropped again. ‘What’s the matter?’
‘Our fate of death and capture was easy to come by. Many other men may have suffered the same. And one man … one old man, useless alone … what good will I do?’
Jonrah tried to reassure Murdul. ‘I’m sure you don’t mean that. You were able to escape capture once, no doubt you are a talented warrior to escape; to survive a fight for freedom this dangerous, and you are a great man, Murdul.’
‘To search endlessly would be a futility. It could take me years to free any prisoners in any of these many towers. I would be an old man before I met with my first foe.’
‘So what are you going to do? You are welcome to travel with us, father.’ Lorda looked to Jonrah, who seemed to share his welcoming attitude.
‘No. I cannot travel back. The journey is too long, and I would only slow you down.’
‘Then, what?’ asked Jonrah.
Murdul seemed to pause for some time, contemplating what he should do. Travel to the East, in search of the pitiful numbers which would by now still be decreasing? No. Weigh down his son and friend with the burden he would no doubt be? Of course not. Wander aimlessly, picking off groups of The Eden? His as of yet unused combat training from younger members of The Fall could be put to good use. He could see his piece of the action before he died. The idea sparked randomly into his mind, plucked from the air. It seemed to make sense, and was the only way he could still be of use without becoming a burden or doing something futile. He spoke.
‘You have saved me from a terrible fate, Jonrah. Lorda, you too played a huge part in my rescue. If not for both of you, I would be stuck in that damned cell, no doubt. Waiting for death… In return for your heroism, I would like to save that which you love, but that which you cannot. Not your son, Jonrah, for he is your goal. I wish to save your lands.’
Jonrah and Lorda did not know quite what to make of Murdul’s offer.
‘I cannot abandon the land that has given my son such fantastic opportunity, to learn to fight, to shelter him from the horrors that the East has spawned. It is my duty to do something for the land that has taught my son … the art of war.’ Murdul looked to Jonrah, who smiled at the repetition of their new in-joke. ‘My time is running out, and I may not live much longer. I wish to do something to protect Crensun before I leave this place and begin my journey to the Otherworld.
‘Factions of The Eden, I shall hunt you.’