Armed with only a single longsword, Lorda feared for the fate of his father, with whom he had only recently been reunited.
However, he knew he was obliged to keep his promise to Jonrah. His old friend needed a companion in the search for his son, and Lorda knew that it was his duty to play the said part.
He did not speak with Jonrah about his feelings, and although he was concerned for his father, he was also concerned for his friend. It was difficult to decide which was more important; his promise to his friend or his love for his father?
As Lorda and Jonrah sat on the mound that they had used to hide behind, Murdul was still visible, entering the forest, becoming lost in the labyrinth of fauna, and as Lorda watched his father leave him, he thought back to their goodbye, only an hour ago now.
‘I know you have to do this. For mother.’
‘She’s proud of you. She’s watching all three of us. She understands the difficult position we’re all in.’
‘She’s watching Jonrah, too?’
‘No. I did not mean the three of us. I meant… You, myself, and Gurden.’
‘Why does she waste her time spectating such evil?’
‘Because she loves him. She loves all three of us. And she knows that he is only doing this to make her proud. And she is proud, in a peculiar kind of way.’
Lorda wasn’t listening to Jonrah talking. Something about what was to be done next.
‘…and circle around to Raggen Pass.’ Lorda tuned in, but Jonrah could tell he had not been listening. He looked at Lorda, but not with frustration, but with a sudden sense of understanding.
Because of Jonrah, Lorda had been put in the same situation.
Father and son had been split up. Jonrah was separated from Jodar. And now, Murdul was separated from Lorda.
This was not what was supposed to be done. Jonrah suddenly realised how much pressure he had been unwillingly putting on his dearest friend.
Quietly, almost silently, Jonrah spoke. ‘Go.’
Lorda didn’t look away from his father, probably didn’t even hear Jonrah’s words. He repeated himself, a little louder, and Lorda turned his head.
‘What?’ He had heard Jonrah this time, but did not understand.
‘No father should be away from his son. I know how it feels. I already have to deal with the division of my own family. I don’t want to be the cause of the division of another. Go with your father. Fight with him, kill with him, make your mother proud.’
Lorda could not believe what his friend was saying.
‘I cannot leave you, my friend,’ Lorda argued. ‘I made a promise to you, and…’
Jonrah interrupted. ‘I don’t care. A true friend throws promises to the side when it is necessary. This is such a time. I will travel to the forest, circle around the plains, and find my son. It is not your adventure, my friend. Your quest is that of your father’s. Hunt the damn dogs down, slay them all. Get your revenge. Protect the West. For yourself, your mother, and for your father.’
They stood, Lorda’s eyes reddening with tears. The whole ordeal was incredibly emotional, and neither Lorda nor Jonrah were one to cry, but the lack of sleep coupled with the desperation of their now individual quests made it hard to close the floodgates.
‘Thank you, my dear friend,’ Lorda sincerely said. He clasped Jonrah in the fiercest and longest embrace any two friends have shared, and without a word, Lorda took his first step after his father.
With Lorda not looking, Jonrah shed out a few more tears. His eyes were dry, and yet they flowed.
‘We will see each other once more! We will be reunited in Litana! The world will be at peace!’ Lorda shouted as he turned back to take one last look at his old teacher, his mentor, his dearest friend. The man who had been like a father to him. Lorda waved, and Jonrah smiled as Lorda turned away, breaking into a run toward his father, now disappearing into the distance, over the small mound that lay between the Eastern Wall and the forest that divided the plains from the Western lands.
Jonrah heard Lorda’s words each through his mind, his heart, his entire body.
‘The world will be at peace,’ Jonrah whispered to himself, before taking his first step alone, in the opposite direction, towards the forest that curled round. He would find his son.