Had I been a cleverer man while I still was a man, perhaps I would have deciphered the truth much earlier — not only about who I was and what I was destined to become but about Akila, my father, who had arrived from nowhere and had returned, mysteriously, to that same place just before I was born. Had I understood the full import of my journey, I would surely have allowed it to interfere with my life as Ben Ko’lar, first Elderbard of the newly rechristened land of Q’ntana. As it was, Prithi made certain that I knew no more than was necessary, even to the moment of my death.
At that moment, as the final breath left my body one autumn morning in the glimmer before dawn, I heard O’ric’s voice, even though he was not present in my bedchamber. “It is time, Ko’lar,” he whispered.
Still, I did not understand.
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