The relief I feel today at our release from the touch of the Makonga only drives my heart to grieve more deeply for Starlark. Though I decided we must wait one more day, I know that he is gone.
This is my act of mourning. Starlark felt abandoned by everyone he had ever loved. We will keep this vigil for him, staying our progress into the jungle so that he knows he was not abandoned. We would never abandon him, no matter what he thought when he died.
But didn’t I? I know that I didn’t feel for him as I once did. My heart was closed to him, my friendship removed in the deeper sense of the word. Was that somehow worse? To abandon him while never leaving his presence? I dragged him into the Nanten only to condemn him to a final loneliness.
Balthandar has told me that none of this was my fault. Inifra has reminded us that our feelings concerning the past few weeks have been tainted by the power of the Makonga.
But how can I be sure? Perhaps Starlark was driven mad by that beast. Perhaps without it we could have been friends again.
Even as I write the words I know them to be false, or at least hollow. Starlark and I grew apart as was destined to happen.
I will not take those who remain with me for granted. If nothing else comes from Starlark’s death, let me at least learn to love those who have sacrificed so much to keep me alive.