All I can think about is the betrayal of my friendship to Starlark. It’s occupied my mind all day. Packing up and leaving the last place we saw him alive this morning only felt like betraying him all over again. Abandoning him. Assuming him to be dead when anything could be possible.
But I know he is dead. Even if he isn’t, he certainly would never come back to us again.
How is it that we fail most intensely those we love? Perhaps it is simply because love is involved in the first place. The disappointments wrought by strangers have so little investment behind them, the impact can never be a match.
Starlark and I may never have been destined to true brotherhood. We may never have been meant to share a kinship of the soul, but he deserved better from me than I gave him. We hunted and fought together, saved each other’s lives multiple times. How could I accept his help in my exile and yet refuse his friendship in the end?
I will never forgive myself for that.
Now we have at least a month’s trek north to the Nanten River, the great trunk of water running through the jungle gathering the tributes of all lesser rivers as it goes. There Salisir died. So we are told. But we have been told of his death at every turn in our journey thus far. Bantish said he died in Graylag. Prestorn said he died on the Akari Grasslands. Now Gorung says he died on the Nanten River.
Where didn’t he die?
How could he have lived?