Her voice when she spoke was as soft as the voice of a bird singing in its sleep0
At length she smiled at him. Her voice when she spoke was as soft as the voice of a bird singing in its sleep.
“You have returned from the Great Quest, Atreyu.”
Atreyu hung his head.
“Yes,” he managed to say.
After a short silence she went on: “Your lovely cloak has turned gray. Your hair is gray and your skin is like stone. But all that will be as it was, or better. You’ll see.”
Atreyu felt as if a band had tightened around his throat. All he could do was nod his head. Then he heard the sweet soft voice saying: “You have carried out your mission. . .”
Were these words meant as a question? Atreyu didn’t know. He didn’t dare look up to read the answer in her face. Slowly he reached for the golden amulet and removed the chain from his neck. Without raising his eyes, he held it out to the Childlike Empress. He tried to kneel as messengers did in the stories and songs he had heard at home, but his wounded leg refused to do his bidding. He fell at the Childlike Empress’s feet, and there he lay with his face to the floor.