I just needed to share this passage from the book I just finished, Fool's Errand by Robin Hobb. In case any of my very few followers actually wants to read this book, this does contain some pretty huge spoilers, so avert your eyes! But this passage...it is the most beautiful thing I've ever read, and also the most soul-destroying. I bawled for a good hour over it, and still tear up when I think about it. It's pretty lengthy, but well worth the read. Spoilers to follow:
[To set the scene, this is a conversation that the main character, FitzChivalry Farseer, is having with his wolf, Nighteyes. They have just been through an epic battle during which Nighteyes, who is very old and ill, was injured. They have been sleeping and sharing dream-memories of their life together and, Fitz believes, they are now waking.]
He stirred first. I nearly woke as he rose, gingerly shook himself, and then stretched more bravely. His superior sense of smell told me that the edge of dawn was in the air. The weak sun had just begun to touch the dew-wet grasses, waking the smells of the earth. Game would be stirring. The hunting would be good.
I'm so tired, I complained. I can't believe you're getting up. Rest for a while longer. We'll hunt later.
You're tired? I'm so tired that rest won't east me. Only the hunt. I felt his wet nose poke my cheek. It was cold. Aren't you coming? I was sure you'd want to come with me.
I do. I do. But not just yet. Give me just a bit longer.
Very well, little brother. Just a bit longer. Follow me when you will.
But my mind rode with his, as it had so many times.
Swiftly we left camp behind. Nighteyes chose the open hillside instead of the wooded vale. The sky overhead was blue and deep, and the last star fading in the sky. The night had been colder than I had realized. Frost tipped some of the grasses still, but as the rising sun touched it, it smoked briefly and was gone. The crisp edge of the air remained, each scent as sharp as a clean knife-edge. With a wolf's nose, I scented all and knew all. The world was ours. The turning time, I said to him.
Exactly. Time to change, Changer.
There were fat mice hastily harvesting seedheads in the tall grass, but we passed them by. At the top of the hill, we paused. We walked the spine of the hill, smelling the morning, tasting the lip of the day to come. There would be deer in the forested creek bottoms. They would be healthy and strong and fat, a challenge to any pack let alone a single wolf. He would need me at his side to hunt those. He would have to come back for them later. Nevertheless, he halted on top of the ridge. The morning wind riffled his fur and his ears were perked as he looked down to where we knew they must be.
Good hunting. I'm going now, my brother. He spoke with great determination.
Alone? You can't bring down a buck alone! I sighed with resignation. Wait, I'll get up and come with you.
Wait for you? Not likely! I've always had to run ahead of you and show you the way.
Swift as a thought, he slipped away from me, running down the hillside like a cloud's shadow when the wind blows. My connection to him frayed away as he went, scattering and floating like dandelion fluff in the wind. Instead of small and secret, I felt our bond go wide and open, as if he had invited all the Witted creatures in the world to share our joining. All the web of life on the whole hillside suddenly swelled within my heart, linked and meshed and woven through one another. It was too glorious to contain. I had to go with him; a morning this wondrous must be shared.
"Wait!" I cried, and in shouting the word, I woke myself. Nearby, the Fool sat up, his hair tousled. I blinked. My mouth was full of salve and wolf-hair, my fingers buried deep in his coat. I clutched him to me, and my grip sighed his last stilled breath out of his lungs. But Nighteyes was gone. Cold rain was cascading down past the mouth of the cave.
SOB SOB SOB SOB.