Epilogue

Tyanyin's long fingers brushed the smooth surface of the polished white stone, tracing out the four solitary letters carved into it. Rene.

"I killed him, Rene. That man, the one you called Jarom. He won't be hurting anyone else ever again. I only wish you could have seen him die."

Tears gathered in the corners of the man's eyes, but he fought them back. It would not do to cry here. Besides, Rene would not want him to. Still, it was difficult not to break down as he sat there on the chilly ground in the courtyard of the building that had once housed the Andivasi. Hundreds of other stones with names etched into them had been placed across the lawn, but this one, and the one beside it, held places of honor right in the middle of things. Ty glanced over at Tork's stone and swallowed hard. Despite their differences, Tork had proven his worth a thousand times over in Tyanyin's eyes.

Grief welled up, hot and bitter. Ty squeezed his eyes shut and hunched his shoulders against it.

"Ty…?"

The man snapped his head up and whirled around, reaching for his sword.

Sorin watched him, a deeply melancholy look on his face. Ty dropped his hand from his hilt.

"Sorry."

"It's kind of sad, Ty. Sad that you still do that."

Ty felt his ears begin to burn with embarrassment. Sorin was right. The boy had changed so much, become something better than any of the others involved in the struggle for Killik's freedom. Of all of them, he was the only one who had come out of the experience with a clear conscience.

"Anyway, I came to tell you. The inauguration ceremony will be starting soon. Morgan is expecting you."

Ty nodded. "I'll be there."

"And he wanted me to tell you how grateful he is that you brought his family in time."

"I told him I would."

Sorin nodded once and looked around, the sorrow in his young features growing tenfold. "I…" Suddenly, he was a boy once more, a young, lost little soul in a world full of cruelty and vicious pain, striving desperately to keep his head above water. "I'm so glad…that Morgan pulled through. I don't think I could handle it…if his name were here."

Ty nodded, not trusting himself to speak through the lump in his throat.

They sat in silence for a long time. Then Ty cleared his throat.

"Um…I'll go…find Meech."

Sorin nodded as he stood and left.

Ty crossed the courtyard and slipped in through a side door. He took a flight of stairs up to the room Meech occupied and knocked softly on the door.

No response.

"Meech?"

Still nothing.

Ty tried to door—locked. He took out his picks and had it open in seconds.

"Meech?"

The man looked up as Ty entered. He was stuffing clothes into a bag. Ty froze in the doorway, staring.

"What are you doing?"

Meech sighed. "Look, Ty…I'm leaving."

"No you're not!"

"I have to, Ty! I've got…I've got to know!"

"No you don't! We need you here!"

But Meech just shook his head. "I'm not needed here anymore. Killik has you and Sorin and Morgan and a thousand others. My work is done here, Ty. It's time for me to help myself now. These past few months…They've been incredible. We've done the impossible, you and I. But now it's time to move on. I've found a lot of myself here in Killik, but there is no more of me to be found here. I have to go elsewhere to continue my search." He buckled the bag closed. "There's a ship leaving for Tralhdon in a few minutes, taking the last of the Andivasi captives. I intend to be on it."

"What about the inauguration?"

"Give Morgan my regards, and tell him I'm still sorry he was crippled because of me." Meech brushed past Ty on his way out. "Now, I've got to go, or I'll miss my boat."

Ty just stood there, frozen with shock, as Meech moved down the hall and rounded a corner. After a long moment, Ty took off after him, intent on stopping the man. Meech was the only thing he had left now; he couldn't just let him slip away like this!

But Meech had already made it out of the headquarters building and into the crowded street. Ty emerged into the watery sunlight and cast about frantically before catching sight of a tall, broad, dark-haired man with a pack on his back. He careened out after the man, but the congestion made it difficult to catch up to him, and Ty lost sight of him several times before he managed to get within reach right on the edge of the pier. Ty caught a corner of the man's shirt and yanked.

The man turned toward him, bewildered, and Ty stumbled back a step. It wasn't Meech at all, but a stranger Ty had never seen before. Ty stammered a quick apology.

A bell tolled nearby, and Ty turned toward it even as one of the ships docked along the wharf cast off its lines and began to pull out to sea. And there, standing on the prow and waving down at him, stood Meech.

And all Tyanyin could do was wave back.