"I am so glad to see you," she breathed.
"You have no idea how thankful I am to hear you say that."
She wiped her cheek. "What do you mean?"
"For as long as I've known you, I've never seen you break one rule. Not one." He pulled away. If he held her for even a minute longer, he would never find the strength to let her go again. He let his fingers brush against hers for a brief moment before dropping his hands to his sides. "You'll probably hate me for this, but I've been following you." She didn't say anything. Was she angry? He hurried to clarify. "It just didn't seem right, sending you out all alone. No one to look out for you. I know the Sterns said it was safer to travel separately, but, well, you're so young. And if anything happened to you, and I wasn't there to protect you …"
She raised her eyes to meet his. "I understand."
He knew it was General Sin behind him by the way the dirt trembled under the forceful strides. Soon didn't turn around. The general had already seen his tears once.
"You did well today." General Sin never offered praise before. Soon lifted his finger to his cheek and pretended to scratch it. He made a move to stand up, but General Sin squatted down next to him. For a moment, the two kept silent vigil before Levi's unmarked grave. Soon could hear the general's throat working each time he swallowed. Finally, the general coughed and mumbled, "For the kingdom to advance, we must all be prepared to make sacrifices."
A dozen questions hung on Soon's shoulders like chinks in an iron chain until he finally found his courage and his voice. "When you say sacrifices, do you mean martyrdom? Or murder?"
General Sin picked up a stick and etched lines in the dirt. "Yes."
Soon didn't ask any other questions.