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The Altar

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Sydney Losstarot's face bespeaks of pain, immense, immeasurable pain. For that, she would forgive him. But answers are owed and she will have them.

She crouches beside him and ignores the Riskbreaker who is still asleep, only scant steps away.

"Why?" He asks her in a whisper. "What more is there I can tell you?"

And she knows he's right. Left to her own devices, she would let the questions sleep, would let him have the rest he so surely needs.

But John Hardin deserved a better death than the one he had, and for all that it was at Guildenstern's hands, it was in Sydney's name. And Joshua Bardorba deserved a better childhood; he's spent so many hours utterly terrified.

He has no debt to her, no, but he still owes answers.

"Why the boy? He deserves to know."

Sydney raises one blond eyebrow in an arching wince. "You would hold my answer in trust for him?"

There's a question, painful and raw, lingering beneath the surface of his words. An implication, yearning and open and awful, stretches between them. She did not foresee this question; she did not plan to make this sacrifice.

Will you care for the boy? he is asking her and she wants to say no, she wants so badly to say no, this answer is mine as well. But they are at quits. All that was owed to her has been given. She can ask no more of him.

She never wanted children. Callo Merlose, a mother? Never. Surely.

She says, "I would."

The truth is worth so much more than any sacrifice she could make. Pride, money, her very life; she would lay it all at the altar of Truth. It is the best gift she could ever give Joshua, the only one that will mean anything.

It is the only thing she has left to claim for herself.