Once Juliet was introduced to the rest of the two teams, Shiner snuck away to find Halberad. He found him in his tent, looking somewhat solemn with Luthyan asleep at his feet.
“Hey buddy,” said Shiner.
“Hey,” said Halberad.
“How you doing?”
“I’ve been better.”
“What are you going to do about Morgaine?”
“I think Vivienne already fixed that.”
“Vivienne got the curse removed,” said Shiner, “but Morgaine’s still pissed.”
“Oh,” said Halberad. “Right.”
“I mean, you kind of ruined her life. If they hadn’t brought in the god, she’d never have forgiven you.”
“I know,” said Halberad, flatly.
“Dude, if you don’t do something, she’s going back to Ethelmore for good.”
“Maybe she belongs with him. They both have raiamon.”
“Do you really believe that? Would you be ok watching them get married?”
“Would Morgaine be ok marrying me?”
“I don’t know, but I know someone who does.”
“I tried Cilla already, and that’s how we got into this mess.”
“I wasn’t talking about Cilla,” said Shiner.
“Juliet,” answered Shiner.
“You think she’d help me?”
“I heard that she was really impressed with Luthyan and Charm.”
“I don’t know. Why do the gods like anything?”
“You think I should talk to her?”
“If it takes this much to convince you, maybe you shouldn’t.”
“I just don’t ever want to make Morgaine that upset again.”
“I don’t think it’s possible to make her that upset again.”
“So,” said Halberad slowly, “you’re saying I have nothing to lose?”
“Ok,” said Halberad. “Let’s go find Juliet.”
They left Luthyan sleeping and found Juliet talking to Charbanian.
Shiner lowered his voice and whispered to Halberad. “Make sure to bow to her. Gods like that.”
Halberad nodded. “Good call.” He dropped to one knee. “Hello, Juliet Zaeus, God of Hate.”
“Just Juliet is fine,” she said.
“Oh,” she said. “You’re Halberad.”
“I’m Shiner,” said Shiner. “That’s Halberad.”
Juliet just blinked at him. “Nice to meet you,” she said. “Did you two just come to introduce yourselves?”
“We kind of had a question,” answered Halberad.
“Is it a riddle?” she asked.
“Good. Some gods love riddles. I’m not one of them.”
“That’s good,” said Halberad. “I was wondering why you took an interest in Charm and Luthyan.”
“What do you know about raiamon?” she asked.
“I’m kind of new to them. I’ve only had mine for two years.”
“Let me tell you what I know.” She repositioned herself as though settling in for a long story. “Raiamon are a fractured half of your soul. Something happens; a traumatic event. The soul can’t take it, breaks right down the middle. You have one half and they have the other, or at least that’s one story.”
“How many stories are there?” asked Halberad.
“It depends on what you consider distinct theories. But most races have at least one explanation. The one I told you is the theory believed by most gods.”
“So why does it matter that Morgaine and I both have raiamon?”
“Well that alone isn’t a big deal. The big deal is that your raiamon love each other.”
“Ok,” said Halberad slowly, “so what you’re saying is that at least half of Morgaine loves at least half of me?”
“You’re taking it too literally. You and your raiamon share your emotions. You share thoughts and you share life. If one of you dies, so does the other. You’re split but tied together. Think of a broken jar held together with rope. It’s broken but as long as all the pieces stay together, it’s whole.”
“Does that mean Morgaine loves me, or not?” asked Halberad.
“Everything I know says she does.”
“But she’s with Ethelmore.”
“Well,” said Juliet, “did you piss her off?”
“Recently? Yes. But she hasn’t loved me for a while.”
“Then you tell me what happened.”
“I don’t know what happened.”
“Someone told me you two dated.”
“So you just woke up one morning and she didn’t love you anymore?”
“No, after the demon attack, we had a fight about joining the war. I woke up the next morning and she was gone. She left a note saying she’d gone to join the war.”
“I thought you said you didn’t know.”
“I mean, I don’t think that should have been enough to break us apart. When the demon attacked us Vivienne and Iron Eye separated us, but we found our way back to each other.” Halberad shook his head. “When she came back though, she was different.”
“What happened between you two breaking up and the demon attacking?”
“I don’t know,” answered Halberad. “I don’t think anything happened. But she came back angrier.”
“I think the attack took a toll on her. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had spiritual trauma,” said Juliet.
“Then why didn’t it affect me the same way?”
“Getting a raiamon rarely affects two people the same way. It’s like an injury to the body: imprecise and chaotic.”
“I don’t understand how she could claim to love Ethelmore when she really loves me.”
“She might not be able to feel any love right now,” answered Juliet. “Maybe she’s just telling herself she loves Ethelmore.”
“Can you scan her for love for Ethelmore?”
“Yeah,” answered Juliet. “She loves him.”
“Does she love me, too?”
“Yeah. The problem is, how much.”
“So, she loves Ethelmore more than me.”
“Exactly. I estimate about 40 percent.”
“That’s a lot,” said Halberad, offended.
She paused to think. “You said you had a fight. What was it about?”
“The damn war.”
“You want to tell me the whole story at once? Or are you going to make me keep prodding every few seconds?”
Halberad looked to Shiner for support. Something seemed to hold him back from elaborating.
Shiner looked back at Halberad with one ear raised.
Halberad huffed. “It’s not a long story but I guess, when you think about it, it explains a lot. I was kind of a coward.”
Juliet sighed. “Wait here a minute.” She returned a few moments later with a helmet.
“What’s that for?” asked Halberad.
“This is a memory-reader. It allows me to view your memories using a Wisdom enchantment.”
“I know what a memory-reader is,” said Halberad.
“Then why did you ask?”
“Because that’s just a helmet. The one I saw was a rock.”
“Usually they’re helmets—never mind,” said Juliet. “Just put it on.”
Halberad put the helmet on his head. “Now what?” he asked.
“Focus on the memory,” answered Juliet, “and hold hands.”
Halberad took Shiner’s and Juliet’s hands. He focused on the memory of him and Morgaine.
They all closed their eyes. After a moment, a vision began to appear. A projection of Morgaine and Halberad materialized in front of them.
Morgaine had her hands on her hips and her eyes were red from crying.
Halberad stood with his fists clenched.
“I’m going to fight whether you like it or not,” said Morgaine.
“Why?” asked Halberad. “What about our plan? What about us?”
“What about Keelta?” asked Morgaine. “What about our families? We are not as important as the entire world.”
“That didn’t matter to you before,” said Halberad.
“I was an idiot,” she said. “I thought love could conquer all but after that attack, you’d have to be really cold to not want to fight.”
“Why?” asked Halberad.
“Because the demon opened my eyes to what we’re actually facing. This could be the end of everything. Someone willing to kill at random just to get what they want is a very dangerous person. We have to stop him.”
Juliet asked Halberad to pause the memory.
He stopped it. “What?’ he asked.
“I want to take a scan here,” she answered. She began waving her hand in the air.
“What are you doing?” asked Shiner.
“I’m scanning for love and hate,” she answered.
“You can’t scan Morgaine from my memory,” said Halberad.
“I know that,” she said. “I’m the God of Hate. I’m scanning you.” A few moments later she said, “that’s enough. You can let it play.”
Halberad resumed the memory.
“We have to fight,” said Morgaine.
“It’s not up to us. Two people won’t make a difference anyway.”
“One person is making a huge difference,” snapped Morgaine. “He’s destroying Keelta. Rumana made a difference. Garnet and Vivienne are making a difference. We have something to contribute.”
“We’d just be soldiers,” said Halberad. “We’re nobody.”
“Hey,” said Shiner from the sideline.
“Speak for yourself,” said Morgaine. “Everybody has the potential to be somebody.”
Juliet asked Halberad to pause the memory again.
He did. “What are you scanning for this time?”
“I actually wasn’t scanning,” answered Juliet. “You guys were just kind of arguing in circles and I needed to see something else.”
“What did you need to see?” asked Halberad.
“Did you two ever have another fight?” asked Juliet.
“No,” answered Halberad. “I woke up the morning after this fight and she was gone.”
“No, no, I don’t mean another fight about this,” she said. “I mean, did you two have another fight, period?”
“Oh,” answered Halberad. “Not really. We hadn’t been dating that long. We were still in the honeymoon phase.”
Juliet sighed heavily and scratched her head. “Can you bring up the memory of the biggest disagreement you two had other than this fight? I need to see what you two are like in conflict with each other.”
“Sorry,” answered Halberad. “But I don’t think there was a disagreement before this.”
“How long were you two dating?” asked Juliet.
“Maybe six months?”
“I was trying to avoid a disagreement,” said Halberad. “Our relationship was new and we had so much in common. I overlooked some stuff because I loved her so much.”
“That’s so sweet,” said Juliet. “You’d be surprised how many guys wouldn’t do that.”
“Well it’s not like there was a lot to overlook or avoid. She’s pretty much perfect. That’s why I think we’re soulmates.”
“If you loved her so much and you avoided any conflict for so long,” asked Juliet. “Why was this where you took a stand?”
“Because I was fighting for our lives, for our future. Morgaine wanted to fight for the world, and it was the first time one of us put something else before our relationship.”
Juliet paused for a moment. “I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities. I think you two were probably soulmates. Either she changed after that attack or, she’s not being true to herself.”
“How do we know which one it is?” asked Halberad.
“We scan her,” answered Juliet.
“Can we do that now?” asked Halberad.
Juliet grinned. “Yes.”