He had awoken the moment she spoke but feigned sleep. It had been amusing at first to nibble her fingers, she couldn't know he had left the lights on so he could admire her body, how it move, why it moved.

Then he heard her talking to herself, and his blood ran cold, she wanted him to be HAPPY. Like all those little fools, those weak fools with their "Caring and Compassion" the crap they used to enslave men like him. Even Cuol had been able to see that, despite his differences with the Master.

And then saying she was an ANCHOR, for him, Idiotic, and as for Master Tegatane, impossible. Lord Tegatane could turn anything to an advantage, anything at all.

He could almost hear his muscles protesting as his fists clenched so very hard. HOW could she be so guilty over this, over THEM? She hadn't preyed on him, HE CLAIMED HER.

He closed his eyes for a moment, forcing himself to the old icy control taught him so painfully by the Master. Even though it caused a slight shiver as thoughts of raping her into submission came to him.

And she believed HE would rip HER soul out of her, that HE would become uninterested in her, RESENT her for her frailty of body. NO, NO, NO, that wasn't it. She didn't understand. Well maybe she did understand him a little, he himself, but the MASTER. No she didn't understand what the Master taught.

LOVE was a farce, a chain, but Passion, LUST that burned till it became madness. THAT was real, that was worthy. And Loyalty was a valued treasure as well. If he EVER gave into love...

The Terror would be unheard of, Terror, Horror, WHATEVER, he was no match for HIM, and he knows it, as well as he took breath. No one existed who was a match for him, whatever the Rin Child might claim.

And she was SO damned CLOSE, so very close, all he had to do was reach up, and make sure SHE knew HE knew. Reach into her mind and make her feel Warm, cold, fight, calm; whatever he wanted.

The power his master gave him, so vast, so monstrous. And the price, nightmare still more, but... worth it, he thought so. How right the master had been, the blood of predators and killers ran through his veins, ran through all superior veins. And their prey, it depended on the moment. Enemies were meant to be slaughtered, destroyed, tortured and hurt.

But if it was desirable, delectable, worthy of lust and passion, as she was. She was right, she was old, but weak. NO, this female was not weak; He grasped the back of her neck and pulled her down to him

"Not so old and weak as you think, slave girl." He kept his voice ice calm, cool. Pulling her closer to him, onto the bed fully, half on him, half at his side, where he wanted her, where he always wanted her.

"Malloshanar, I'm sorry, I only said what's true. I'm old, weak; I'll only be a burden to you. I'm useless and blind." How she shook in his grip.

She wasn't USELESS, Blind yes, useless, NEVER. Part of him wanted to laugh, His master had foreseen this. Then he shoved her back, off the bed, and rose himself, stalking towards her, helpless before him except for her wits, and he wanted that mind so much.

The power sang in his veins at once burning him and making him want to rape her and scream in pleasure. She was begging, "Please, I know you will keep me, I am not saying for you to get ride of me."

He growled back, "Do you know that? If you know that how do you not know the REST!" It hurt him that she didn't get it, "How utterly DIFFERENT He is, how he's made me, US, different. You don't think about it do you?"

"You want me; desire me; that doesn't mean I'm what you need." Her voice cracked with her next words, "And when you know that... You'll find it. And then you'll be angry with me for not being that."

HOW dare this BITCH... but all he said was, "Really?"

"I've known it to happen to others. I can't be what you will need, someone who can believe so blindly in your master; someone who will always obey you without arguing."

How he HATED those who dared to think themselves men. "Do tell, woman... how many COWARDS did you grow up KNOWING, in this mystical land of yours? Cowards who would TIRE, Cowards who would BLINDLY follow?" Master NEVER asked him to blindly follow, didn't this woman understand that, "NONE of us follow Master BLINDLY. Not one."

He was shaking as he continued, "We BELIEVE, true enough. But he CONVINCED each and every one of us More still besides. Fought us, where that was the way, out THOUGHT us, in that one."

She sighed and didn't try to rise, "And I'm old Malloshanar, so very old. I was not young when you met me I was more than twice your age, now look at me. I'm at least four times your apparent age if not older, and my body, it's older than that." She was right in that, but that was what drew him, her wisdom, her knowledge, her experience, " Even if you are right, and I don't have to believe blindly or stop being what I am, I am OLD, have you even kissed a young woman, done things young couples do, things I cannot anymore because I'm so old."

He sighed then, "Yes, I have kissed a young woman, and it meant NOTHING to me, yet another 'mission' another task. But you; age, you worry so much on it. Intriguing for a woman who was once so focused, so... business… Subtle little... insecurities… woman indeed…"

She sighed then, and all the pride seemed to go out of her as she says softly, "Malloshanar, I am aging in this world, dying eventually, though I don't know when. I'm too old now to have hope."

He smiled, slowly, was THAT all? If she... would she…? "Dying? I'm not. 'Doomed' to walk this world for ages, if it comes to it, all because of the man you hate."

Still no more pride in her, he wanted that back, he LIKED her proud. "I have heard the stories. So eventually I'll leave you, and not through any choice of my own."

"Do you want to?" Did she, would he let her go? He towered over her now, intimidated her like she once did him. Could he do it, if she truly did want to leave? His lust said no, but something else in him said yes. What was she doing to him?

In an answering whisper she said, "Wrong question, Malloshanar."

That triggered his anger, his wrath, HOW DARE SHE, "DO YOU WANT TO LEAVE ME?!" She and her damned PROPRIETY, he hated it, it got in his way, hated it like MASTER did. Like poison.

It was her next words that made him stop, quenched the fires of rage and lit something else that made him feel strange, "WRONG QUESTION, STUPID QUESTION. You should ask yourself if you want me to live."

His fingers wrapped into her hair and pulled her head back, letting him look into her blackened orbs, his breath hot on her skin, he knew it because he could feel it blow back into his own face. His voice was quiet, yet filled with power; she HAD to understand what he was offering.

If she didn't understand..."It doesn't WORK THAT WAY." The horrible truth, "It doesn't work on another, when one would think it would... because she doesn't WANT it. If you didn't WANT to live... then the way I... we... could MAKE YOU live would only hasten your DEATH."

He shook then; he had seen such deaths, inflicted by the master, the very blood in their veins in their mouths, eating them up from the inside out. "…and more gruesomely, to be sure." If Ueil knew he was talking like this to an outsider he would be furious, but she HAS to know.

He looked away even though she could not see it, "I tell you this with a death penalty upon you if you leave, understand? One DOES NOT talk about it, EVER, to 'outsiders'. That we are capable of making beings immortal, and how." If he had to kill her...

"Yes, I understand, but still DO you want me to live, Malloshanar, after all I did to you?"

He wanted to plunder her mouth then, but held it back. "All you did to me only makes me want it further... for revenge, if it came to it, never minding simple desires. The WOMAN who deigned REFUSE a... a what... What WAS I, with him? No worlds, no Warlords, then. Individuals only, He'd like that, I think One of His; refusing one of His."

He smiled again, he loved the very thought of a woman strong enough to stand up to his master, being HIS to rule. He let his left hand trace her lips as he continued, "The -woman- who did so, being reduced to submissive servitude to him, for immortal years. Poetic; BREAKING a young man's youthful-years, female teacher."

His body so wanted hers again, his own eyes rolled back in pleasure almost as good as spilling his fire into her body, he drew a shaking breath and focused his attention on her next words. "How would you make me live? I cannot let go and change like most of us did."

Her having to let go and change like that was an abomination to her, a woman should only change because of the skilled hammer blows to her soul by a male. "Master Tegatane doesn't ask for such things." He assured her of that quickly.

He brushed her hair back gently with his left hand, "All that was asked for was to WANT something BADLY enough. And it could make our dreams come true. For me and the other warlords it will AMPLIFY us."

Her voice was so very soft and gentle, like the half remembered teacher who would take time away from his training in weapons to console him when he didn't do as well as he wanted in Mathematics, "All I wanted was for you to be happy, if my writhing in pain would do it before my end would make you happy, say so, if you want me to live say so, then give me whatever it is you must to make your dream come true."

He took a slow deep breath then spoke carefully to her, "You are only proving him right, woman. Do you understand that? That in the end, females crave to be slaves to powers beyond their touch, beyond their comprehension."

Her next words... He didn't want to think about it. "I don't CARE right now, don't you understand that. FORGET your master, what do YOU, want."

How could he NOT think about the Master? He could KILL this treasure of his. "Forget how to breathe, forget how to walk, THAT is what you 'ASK'!"

"NO" it was primal sounding, a female demanding her male prove himself to her, "I ask you to forget EVERYTHING except what you WANT."

He stared at her then, quietly, calmly. What did he really want? What did HE want for HIMSELF? "I wanted... to be like him. He didn't react like... we did. Even just on the STREETS, NEVER MIND these weird pasts you speak of. He walked as if he OWNED... the place? EVERYTHING! As if he was a god. And the more I LEARN, of what he HIMSELF faced... hurts that could tear into ME??... AND HOW he ONLY became STRONGER, through it? More dangerous to those he hated?"

Her voice was soft, "To be like that, you cannot love. I don't know if I can live like that, but I know I can die like that."

Did she know what she OFFERED! "WHY, WHY DOES HE HAVE TO BE SUPERIOR TO US?" He knew if he lost her now his heart would be destroyed and he RESENTED the master for that, hated him as much as he..."loved" him. Kovus was all he wanted to be, all he NEEDED to be, and yet this thing he desired so much kept him from BEING him.

Winterlight's voice called him back, "Because he is missing something we have."

Missing SOMETHING, Yes, some weakness he didn't have that all the others, even he and the other warlords had. "Yeah, a beginning, follow it back far enough, and you'll see the impossible. There is no record of him, and files are not missing. Master came from nothingness. Believe me, I've LOOKED, tried to understand. He is simply not there."

She nodded, "Yes, like before; but Malloshanar, I only care what you want for ME."

"You just DO NOT get it, do you...?"

"I guess not, you matter to me, YOU are the one I want."

Those words warmed him. Made him feel... could this be happiness? Could this be that insidious emotion that the master often despised? "Your very ACTIONS, there... your DESIRES, in wanting that... are exactly what they are 'supposed' to be. Not about 'what he's thinking,' or what I'M thinking; submissive slave girl."

Did she get it did she understand, nothing mattered to him but her; he tried to phrase it so she would understand, "Eighteen years old, eighty years old? No difference, in his teaching. Craving, for fearsomeness... and yet, craving for ORDER: what is always inside, one way or another."

Her voice was soft, "But it does make a difference, I'll die."

There was DAMPNESS in his eyes, he quickly wiped it away before continuing, "And you'll die quicker, if you don't want to live and I refuse that, understand? If you want to wither away, I CAN'T STOP YOU. Only if you WANT it, does it affect. Since everyone wants SOMETHING, it always affects. So... what do YOU want."

He had to know, HE HAD to. If she didn't want him with the burning need he felt with her... It would KILL her, break her, eat her from the inside out and destroy her. He didn't want that, he would sooner watch her fade away from him a year at a time, than watch that. Know she struggled against time for him, than watch her die like THAT.

The moment he released her hair she turned away, "I want you to be happy, and if it was with me... but if it can't be, i just want you to be happy."

He was angry, that wasn't what he wanted to know, he grabbed her hair and pulled her hair back even sharper than he did before, snarling his rage at her, "THIS MOMENT, I COMMAND YOU, FEMALE, TO TELL ME WHAT YOU CRAVE WITH BURNING PASSION, INSIDE!! SAY IT!!"

She swallowed then, "To KNOW for sure if you will still want me tomorrow and every day after. Malloshanar, please tell me now."

He snarled then, no words, just animal thoughts and animalistic feelings. And outside of her sight, by definition, he would do something only Arrans and Warlords could do. He made his teeth lengthen into fangs, and then sunk them deep into his own wrist. Drawing the blood, letting it burn his skin, wrist, mouth, it didn't matter, filling his mouth with some.

Pressed against him, Winterlight was shaking, "Please, will you still want me." OH yes he did, but this was more important, he had to make sure the wound was right, that it spilled the right amount of his blood into his mouth.

And once he had enough, he kissed her, the blood on his lips and tongue meeting hers causing that first jolt of lightning pain to rip from her throat and down her spine. He could hear her moan in agony as it took her over, pain more intense than anything she had probably known.

And he touched her mind to help her with the agony, and what he saw made him burn again with longing. She was unable to choose, Life or Death, and because of HIM. If he didn't want her forever she WANTED to die, if he did, then she would live for him and try to serve him well.

Her mind balanced between. He could control her so easily, no matter what. Her mind his to... Then he saw it, the danger, what he didn't have the strength to stop, his blood was DESTROYING the very thing he loved; her will, her ability to argue with him, debate with him. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

He didn't want this, didn't want her to need him every moment to function, for her to merely be an extension of his will. He was KILLING her on his own. He had to... Ask. The absolute opposite of what Master wanted. He had to ask... HIM.

He could feel the lighting running through her, her body assuming the position of a pleasure slave of the tower without her needing to be trained to it, her voice softly asking, begging, "Do you still want me, please, I have to know."

He forced his voice to be steady, ""If I did, I would be condemning you to this. I know the answer, in myself. Do you know what it requires of you, my prey? With me, you would be obedient to Master Tegatane. You would have to be, not 'if you don't, then...' His will, taking over if he wants, and he will want. He always wants everything. No limits."

"Not what I asked Malloshanar."

He felt her slipping away from him; he tried to get that fire back, "WE DO NOT EXIST IN A VACUUM, WOMAN!" It was viciously snarled, trying to get her to fight.

"Please tell me do YOU Malloshanar, WANT ME."

She wasn't LISTENING, even when focused on nothing BUT him. She didn't see the danger, couldn't see it maybe. He could, he was the leader of XQ, master of intelligence. Master never chooses anyone for a position wrongly. But here, he had made a misstep, but he realized now he had no choice, if he wanted to keep her, and he did want to keep her. "Of course I do, I always have."

She sighed then softly and laid her head on his shoulder, "I trust you Malloshanar. I know you will take care of me."

He could feel the pain reach for her heart; wrap itself around it like coils of a serpent. "It doesn't matter whether you trust me, whether you trust him will determine futures. He will not care, emotional fears being for 'weaklings'."

He could hear the whimper start only to stop, through her mind went so many thoughts, did he want her to, did he like her scars, over and over, and him taking over her mind. He was becoming her MASTER, like Tegatane was to him, so he would be to her; if he let it, if he let her drown. Her voice was softly calling his name.

Yet did he want this. What if he wanted her to keep mental control? He tried, but he couldn't do it. He didn't have the knowledge, the strength; he was still to new to all his powers to do it. So he let her go, and watched as her body moved, kneeling in just the way he liked, felt her surrender, hurt and confused, not sure how she displeased.

This wasn't what he WANTED, was it? Her hands moved to his expectations, crossing over her breasts, her blind eyes rolled back, her entire body becoming some parody of pleasure. Her mind becoming more and more foggy to him, the brilliant edges blunting.

His lovely heirloom blade was being turned to POT METAL before his eyes. Still he had to comfort her, and let her know that loosing his interest was NEVER going to be a problem. If he lost her, he WOULD find her again; study her mind till he figured out how to bring her back, even if it DESTROYED him.

In desperation he calmed himself and sent a thought to a place in his soul where he knew one other would be aware of it, "I don't want her loosing herself."

And like burning ice the response came, to him, and through him to her. {"So it is your admittance that your attempts to HIDE her from me failed even before they began?"}

He looked and he knew his master's eyes saw through his own, at the woman before him, once-teacher, all he had pined for, burned for. Now on her knees, body brazenly presented for this inspection. The woman his soul knew once had him dangling by a thread. Now she was becoming exactly what he didn't want, his playing.

he could feel his desires seeping into her now under his master's hand. Let her know he wanted to take her, ravish her, yet if he did... He knew his master could now hear his voice, "If that is your wish to teach, Lord Tegatane."

Even as she writhed in helpless pleasure his master's voice rang in his head, {"NO. Foolish thought, not tolerated, Three, and you know this."}

"Then what would have you, of me?"

He could almost hear the menacing laugh, {"Respect of how foolish defying my chosen methods of order are."}

He had to admit at least part of it, "I feared you."

{"Too true; but since when do you let it dominate you?"}

He wasn't going to let it go till he admitted all of it, "Since my realization, immediately so, that it would defy your notions of 'love'."

His Master's mind voice was cold {"DO you love her?"}

The world love hung there, and how he WISHED he dared to answer, but he didn't even dare THINK of it, such would be hor...

And his Winterlight spoke that unasked for reply, so did to his subconscious will, "And if he DID?"

And all HELL broke loose; he could feel his female burning worse than before, her blood heated nearly to boiling in her veins by HIS will through HIS warlord. He wanted to break, to run to her, to turn and strike at the tormentor who DARED to harm HIS female. Yet such would be close to suicidal, or at least mortifyingly hurtful, and to both.

But his Master spoke softly into his mind, {"Tell her."}. A path out of the hell they were both in, a road that would lead to the results that Mallos wanted and needed so badly.

"Winterlight, beg for forgiveness, slave woman, for defiance to the Emperor." He kept his voice ice cold and stone, he had to, no other way.

He could feel her say softly, "Forgive me; I only want to help him... He is my Master."

But he knew the moment it passed her lips it wasn't ENOUGH, And she would DIE if she didn't do it better, so he roared in her face, "BEG FOR FORGIVENESS, FOR DEFIANCE OF SPEAKING OUT OF TURN TO THE EMPEROR, SLAVE."

She whimpered in true fear then, "Please forgive me, I let my desire to help my master overcome me; I will try to be a better slave to him."

And his master's voice rang in his head alone, a single command. Not letting her hear it, a command he would obey despite his own confusion. {"Ask me."}

He seized the moment, "I ask you to release your slave from her punishment, Lord Tegatane. She is very intelligent, and will learn her place at my side almost instantly."

He knew it, her pain was going, fading, and he could feel his masters amused contempt as he "Spoke" to Winterlight through him. {"Your hypocrisy taints you woman, your own thoughts, rationalizations, defying your own defiance."}

She bowed her head and said, "I will try to learn better."

Sill the mocking amusement continued. {"Someone who can... challenge you, make you stay on 'toes', hold their own when you show your supposed WORST? Here and now, you challenge me at nothing. All the above, I walk in... You despise me for what I am. Despise what your male would have himself become."}

He could feel the change in Winterlight, she was till focused on being pleasing to him, but no longer was she becoming lost in him. Was this Master's plan? Her voice rang out, "I don't despise you; I HATE you."

And master seemed to be laughing in his mind as he mentally spoke to the woman, {"Then you hate what you crave. For all that he is that you have come to reverence, even without realizing it... stems from his NEW world view No BOY is he, as he once was on the streets."}

He noticed his master didn't mention the stories he had transmitted, didn't mention the reports from XQ about other stories told. His master continued, {"Your superior... your OWNER... crafted from what ... you... HATE. Your side... your gender... knows not what it truly wants. Not other than craving an authority that it both fears and adores. Dare gainsay this reality, YOU, woman?"}

Before she could scream it, before ANYTHING could happen he shouted it at her, "OBEY and BE SILENT, SLAVE GIRL." Winterlight bowed her head then shaking in fear of his wrath, "DEFIANCE OF THE EMPEROR WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. DO YOU DEIGN TO THINK YOURSELF AS -MINE-? ANSWER"

She was trembling as she spoke, "Yes Malloshanar, forgive me."

He mentally turned back to his master, to Lord Tegatane, in conversation. Having to keep this up, not let thoughts of other, of potential REAL reasons, go through his mind... and knowing it was to late the moment he started. The emperor Kovus Tar Tegatane was just too bloody INTELLIGENT, in everything.

And his master cut him off. {"What is your request, Three."}

He shrugged it all off, his fear, his emotions, no time to think on that, of what it meant, it would only weaken his resolve, that way..."That she maintain freedom of her thought, and not lose it to my blood."

Again an almost amused thought hit him, {"Your blood, from me; your choices."}

He could feel his very soul shivering, but not his body, never tremble before the master physically, he lowered his head, "Yes, sire, my choices... but without the strength, as yet, to control properly. My seeking to achieve conquest of her while she was prey so blatant; my desire, animalistic, primal."

{"And that desire, inspired by her as you encountered her, not as she would become?"}

He nodded once and felt something. Maybe, just... maybe...

{"Denied... in the form you seek. Consequences are part of existence. You know this better than most."} He nodded to his master, clenching his fist once more. But... in the form he SOUGHT... What of????

His master wasn't finished. {"It will be granted in other forms; but enough of her existence will be changed to render her quite other from the woman who was encountered on that world, buying subsistence from tales."}

He tried to stop thinking, but he couldn't, he was always thinking. Granted in other forms, he could only wonder at that aspect...

{"When she begins changing, as you originally considered... it will render her, by the drop, further yours, in all possible ways. That is the promise, AND your warning. Consider them both well."}

He felt his master's presence fade from his mind, from her mind, still linked to his. He bent down and helped her to her feet, gently, tenderly. He was... afraid. "So decided then, one can only wonder what dangers I have now invited, from him. Important enough you, to render me to ask such things, Dangers beyond count, from Master?"

Her head went down then, and he brushed her cheek with his lips. He knew what he would have to do, but didn't want to think of it, instead he decided to comfort her, "In answer to your question: will I ever tire of you, impossible. You are too firmly linked to me, now. On the contrary... rather than lose 'interest', as do the weaklings... you will begin to feel terror as to just how MUCH interest continues rising..."

Her voice shook, "it doesn't matter; you will be hurt on my account."

He almost burst out laughing, "Unlikely. The question is how much YOU will be hurt. I am a Dragon Warlord. I will endure. You, you are prey. Prey that in your stories, once defied cosmically dark powers, refused to join with them. And for that... somehow, someway... made to pay."

"Hopefully not like Kyria, NEVER like Kyria."

He arched an eyebrow then, "Kyria?" That name, that important name.

"She loved him, more than her own life; she let herself starve to death to save him from some vision of hers that was so horrifying she never smiled again. And he ignored her after she told him she had to go away to save him. And when she died, he almost spit on her. All she wanted was to save him and he wanted to spit on her."

That puzzled him. He couldn't see it, "IGNORED her? That doesn't sound like him in the remotest sense, woman."

She sighed. "He never once tried to see her, I don't know what she said to him, but if he loved her even HALF as much as she claimed, he should have tried to see her. I know you often watched me."

He thought about that, visions, his master not coming to see her. There was more to that but he didn't want to ask the questions right now. He was MUCH more interested in her now, "Indeed? And tried to make you listen, all the same? Or do my NIGHTMARES state wrongly?" And they were NIGHTMARES, of pain and hurt soul deep.

Her voice was as anguished as his nightmares were and he felt a satisfaction in knowing that she had hurt for what she did to him, "I don't KNOW. You so often scared me then. I just know that I had to stay away from you because you were KILLING people.

What did she think, he was a NICE guy? He kept his voice deadpan as he said, "I'm killing people now." but he let himself smile. What business is it learning combat if it is only used in artistic form? The knowledge you gave out, OURS to take, ours to use, for war." It was so deliciously ironic he chuckled as he said, "An irony most delicious, helping arm your own conqueror."

He could hear her own chuckle, "Yes and loosing my heart to him as well. I was the one who never wanted a companion, till I met you."

"And I make you MY companion?"

She reached out and touched his hair, "Why didn't you let whatever was going to happen, happen?"

"Because if I had; you would likely find it difficult to remember any aspect of your past unless I asked you about it. Ceasing to be the Winterlight you have been... and instead, your mind permanently 'pinned'... to serving me."

Her face was vulnerable, "Wasn't that what you wanted?"

"It's what my anger would want. The side that craves to take away your freedom to decide what you did."

She looked confused, "Isn't that what HE teaches is right?"

So much she didn't understand, "He teaches to force reality upon all, if they refuse to accept it."

"My reality is that now, I'm yours." And her mouth met his in a deep and passionate kiss, one he deepened himself, though she broke it quickly, saying, "and I will do my best to be good."

He glanced away from her, "You will be good, whether or not you really try, now. Such the price you will pay, for what I've now done to you."

She smiles at him wistfully, "If it is the price to have what I was afraid to reach for before."

He touched her face tenderly once more, she didn't know what it would do to her, the violence in her soul would be unleashed, the passions, the lusts, everything dark and beautiful would come rising to the top, "I am not sure you would tolerate the price, for now. And so I discuss it not, until it becomes apparent, what will occur."

"I am not afraid anymore."

He smiled, "That is well. Now it is time for sleep. We will be on Arrah in a few hours. I wish to enjoy your warmth at my side till then."

She smiled at him and kissed him once more. He brushed a finger against her lips then said, "Just sleep. I fear I have a mission in the morning, part of my price for what is happening to you."

She only nodded and they once more lay side by side, his arm over her body holding her close. He was afraid of the prices to be paid. Would he still have his Winterlight at the end...?

It was two hours before he could follow Winterlight into sleep.