'No one does. No one knows how b.l.o.o.d.y this has been. No one knows how much more they'll want before it's over. I knew what the world was when I came here.'
'You came here to change the world by slaughtering all of Galt,' Maati said.
'Yes, Maati. Yes, so that this wouldn't happen. So that we wouldn't change!' She was weeping now, though he couldn't hear it in her voice. The tears only ran unnoticed down her cheeks as she moved, restless as a trapped bird. 'I don't know the Galts. I don't love them. I don't care if they all die. What's going to happen to us? What's going to happen to him? What's already happened?'
'It's hard, isn't it? When there's nothing to distract you from it,' Maati said. 'Harder, I mean. It's not ever easy. You had the organization of the city to keep your mind busy, but that's done, and now there's nothing but the waiting. I've felt it too. If I didn't have the binding to work on, I'd have sunk into it.'
Liat stopped. Her hands worried at each other.
'I can't stop thinking about it,' she said. 'I keep half-expecting that it will all go back to what it was. That we'll go back to Saraykeht and carry on with the business and talk about that terrible year when the Galts came the way we talk about a bad cotton crop.'
'It won't, though.'
'Then what's going to happen to him?'
'Him? Just Nayiit? He's the only one you wonder that of?'
The tears didn't stop, but a smile as much sorrow as otherwise touched her.
'He's my son. Who else matters?'
'He's going to be fine,' Maati said, and even he heard the conviction in his voice. 'The Galts will be turned back, because I will turn them back. Our children won't die. Theirs will. We won't go hungry. They will. Nayiit won't be harmed, and when this is all finished with, he won't stay here with Otah-kvo. He'll go, because he has a child of his own in Saraykeht, and he isn't the kind of man who can walk away from that.'
'Isn't he?' Liat asked. Her tone was a plea.
'Either he's Otah's son, and Otah sacrificed his freedom and his dignity to keep Danat and Eiah safe. Or he's mine, and you had to force me away.'
'Or he's mine,' Liat said. 'Then what becomes of him?'
'Then he'll be beautiful and lovely beyond all mortals, and age gracefully into wisdom. And he'll love his child the way you love him,' Maati said. 'Silly question.'
Liat couldn't help but laugh. Maati rose and took her in his arms. She smelled of tears - wet and salt and flesh. Like blood without the iron. He kissed the crown of her bowed head.
'We'll be fine,' he said. 'I know what to do. Cehmai's here to help me, and Otah's bought us the time we need. Nothing bad will happen.'
'It will,' Liat said into his shoulder, and then with something that s
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