A Price too High to Pay
Part 4 - We all have to make our Sacrifices
Ilea sighed reminding herself to be patient. If dealing with Humans was hard, dealing with old men asked for all the patient she could manage.
“I’m telling you, Amambar, it’s time to act!” she repeated for the third time. “Why can’t you see this!”
Amambar stubbornly shook his head, his gaze fixed on the tall window of the Council room.
“Our Brothers tell me that this silence might mean that the threat as come and is now gone.”
“This silence means only one thing! That something or someone is hiding this Force again, and you know it!” Ilea countered, unwilling to admit defeat.
“Even if this is so. Without any solid proof I can hardly press the Council to make a decision! We have nothing to hold on to but mere arguments and theories! If this worries you so much, bring me proof and then we shall talk about what to do.”
Ilea took a deep breath. And there they were, back to the beginning … again.
“That’s why I’m asking you to let him leave …”
“With all due respect, that is out of the question!” the Mage declared, facing her with a sever expression she had rarely seen on his face in all the years she’d known him. “Arkadi is too young! Sure, I’m the first to recognize his gifts and abilities, but that’s exactly why I can’t allow him to go! He holds more power than any young man his age should hold! He’s still inexperienced and I will not have him turn to the dark path for lack of guidance and knowledge! The world outside is no place for someone like him, not for a many long years to come!”
“He is the one! Only he can …”
“Choose another, Ilea! One of us, if it pleases you! I don’t care! Anyone but him!”
Ilea stood up as she felt her patient hit rock bottom and placed both hands on the old Mage’s desk.
“Haven’t you heard a single word I’ve said?”
“I heard you well enough!” Amambar retorted, facing her fearlessly. “But I’m not going to send him to his death, or even worse, just because you say so on a whim!”
“A whim …?!” she repeated in outage and disbelieve and Amambar stood up, turning his back on her.
“It’s easy for you, to ask something like that! You who don’t know the true meaning of death! A human life is short and for that reason too precious to just throw away like that!”
“Are you saying I don’t value human life?” she asked, unable to believe what her ears were hearing, and Amambar crossed his arms, unwilling to face her.
“How can you, if those are mere words for you? You can’t possible comprehend …” His voice was suddenly cut off when she effortlessly held him by the collar of his white robe and made him turn around to face her, even though he was much heavier than she was.
“You have no right to tell me that! Not after all I’ve done and sacrificed for all of you! You think it wouldn’t have been much easier to simply stay home like everyone else? Can you even imagine what I have to do and face to be able to come here every time you call me! Do you know how many laws I’ve broken so far to do so? Laws that you don’t even dream they exist! I gave up on everything because of you! I lost everything! Even my freedom! And you stand here and tell me I don’t value human life? And talk about Arkadi …?” she said all in one breath, her purple eyes growing darker and flashing bright, and Amâmbar lowered his gaze, shaking his gray head, looking suddenly too old and tired.
“He is like a son to me …” he managed to squeeze out and Ilea released him, regretting the way she’d just lost her temper and, at the same time, feeling sorry for the old man.
“What about me? Do you really believe that if I could choose another I wouldn’t?”
“My lady …”
“It has to be him. And our feelings and wishes hold no weight whatsoever in this.”
Amambar took a deep breath and raised his head, back to his posture of Representative of the High Tower of Magic.
“I understand. But if that’s how things must be, than you shall leave with him!”
“What? No! I can’t!”
“You will go with him!”
“You have the experience and the knowledge he lacks. Also, you alone have some insight about his part in all this. There’s no one else to accompany him and help him should he need.”
“Please … I ask of you. Ask me anything but that. You don’t know … you can’t know what it means …”
“We all have to make our sacrifices, and this is not a request, Ilea. This is my sole and one condition.” She stood in silent, fists clutched at her side, and the old Mage placed his hands her frail shoulders. “He will need you … I’m sure he won’t survive if you’re not with him …” he added. “You just told me how much you value human life. And I know how much you love him.” She closed her eyes, a sharp pain piercing at her chest. “Do this for him, for the love you have for him. Protect him. He is just a child.”
“I understand. I will abide by your condition. After all, we all have to make our sacrifices …”
“Yes … yes we do.”