Only a messenger

"But you, sweet Linao, you are pure. You are free of any such taint, at least for now." With a side glance toward her, he answered her question. "That is why I was sent to find you."

"But... what if..." Linao countered.


"Look... what if I just... don't do it? Let somebody else do it?"

"You mean go back to the way things were?" His voice had a disapproving quality to it. "Be one of the crowd? A sheep, a mindless cattle?"

"Look!" she said angrily. "You never asked me if I wanted any of this. I'm not a killer, Jeriel!" She realized that this was the first time she'd said his name out loud, and it left a funny taste in her mouth. "Look at me! I'm just a girl! A very scared girl who just wants her life to be back the way it was before." She winced, as she repeated what he had accused her of. "I can't do what you're asking. I don't know who-knows-what that made you come to me of all people for this, but I'm telling you that they are wrong. I can't do this. I can't... I can't just... kill someone..."

"I can't make you do anything, Linao." He sounded disappointed. "I'm only a messenger. There is more to the message, but if you don't want to listen, it's pointless to deliver it." He paused before adding, "I must tell you, though... the world has an interesting way of dealing with those who refuse to accept their fates."

She couldn't believe what she was hearing. "What do you mean? Are you... threatening me??"

"No, Linao," he said, sounding surprised. "Why would I threaten you? We're on the same side, you and I. It is suicidal to menace one's allies. But," he went on, "I will tell you that I have known a good many hunters in my time... both those who chose to accept their role, and those who didn't. And there's one thing that those who refused always end up telling me..."

"What?" She hated her interest.

"They wish they could take it back," he confided.

"Take what back? Being a hunter?"

"No. Being a hunter... and not doing anything until it was too late."

summary written by Cherie

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