Chapter LXXXI

The moment her feet touched the ground, Beatrix was running to Hathering’s tent. But of course - he wouldn’t be there now. He had swapped himself for her.

This sobered her elated feeling of mad joy a little - the rebels had not been sensible after all - but who cares? She’s alive, isn’t she?!

She burst into the tent, her face alight with happiness, to find all the faces within it ashen with gravity, their chins on their knees, eyes closed, desolation etched into every feature.

‘Ye gods!’ she exclaimed. ‘What on earth has happened?’

Lockspate looked up momentarily, before his head fell back down as if it were too heavy for his neck to hold. It was only then that Beatrix noticed exactly who sat in the room - there was Hathering, as dejected as the rest. So who... ?

‘It’s over, Beatrix,’ Hathering said with a deep sigh, barely lifting his head, his eyes downcast and emotionless. ‘Aaron’s won. We are the losers. There’s no point in fighting anymore. We’re useless. I’m useless. I should never have led this fool’s venture. I was stupid and naïve and weak. And my mistake has cost thousands of men their lives. I’m a failure and a coward. And it’s all over.’

Beatrix was shocked at this change in Hathering’s emotions, but she had no time to dwell on them because, looking around, and with her feeling of elation plummeting to deep-seated horror, she whispered:

‘Where’s Keiran?’

The End

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