Christopher: Curious how the word “no” comes to mind whenever I think of you.
Leiwell: As it does for me with you.
Christopher: No, he couldn’t have done such a thing. Not to Damian. No, he can’t be keeping Damian from me.
Leiwell: No, I can’t keep him from my brothers. No, I see Danyel getting closer and closer to him and I can’t stop it. No, I know how this will end. No, neither Danyel nor Tayel deserve such a fate, but I can’t sever the connection between Christopher and them.
Christopher: No more than the twins can sever the connection between Dyvian and you. Believe me, they would if they could.
Leiwell: (looks away) That’s different.
Christopher: Is it? I’ve never wielded my power with the ambition Dyvian colors his every action with.
Leiwell: Haven’t you?
Christopher: (looks away) Not like he does.
Leiwell: (keeping his attention fixed away from Christopher) No matter what his ambitions might be, Dyvian would never deliberately hurt me or anyone precious to me.
Christopher: (turning back to Leiwell) Perhaps he wouldn’t hurt you. I’m not so sure about anyone precious to you.
Leiwell: Dyvian takes care of us. He provides for my mothers, my brothers, and me in ways I never could.
Christopher: And you pay for that care with your life and loyalty. It’s as if Dyvian has created his own little Garden of Arachne in the Old Cottage.
Leiwell: And that Garden is spreading through Seraphix and Their talismans to cover all of Omphalos.
Christopher: Did you just agree with me?
Leiwell: It may be the part of me that’s Damian Ashelocke. He sees his Aunt Duessa’s hands and schemes in everything.
Christopher: I doubt very much what’s happening in Omphalos is one of Duessa’s schemes.
Leiwell: You claim greater insight into the first among arachnocrats than her own nephew?
Christopher: No, I claim greater insight into Dyvian’s plots than Damian or you. Your own insight is clouded by loyalty and love.
Leiwell: Yours into Damian is equally clouded.
Christopher: Is it? Damian may hide his true feelings behind a smile, but he couldn’t lock away his passion. It comes out in his art, even in his sarcasm. Dyvian is far better at concealing and controlling his passion.
Leiwell: Just because Dyvian conceals and controls it doesn’t mean the passion isn’t there. His hunger for life, for personal connections, for influence, for each individual who contributes to the greater glory of his godling are manifestations of his passion.
Christopher: Listen to you defend him. You have plenty of doubts about Seraphix, but none about Dyvian’s passion for spreading his worship, even though you’re unsure if it should be spread.
Leiwell: Just because I’m confused doesn’t mean Dyvian is or should be. His conviction is one of the qualities I admire about him.
Christopher: Even though you mistrust the very godling and Their Followers he’s giving his conviction to?
Leiwell: (looking away) I never said that conviction wasn’t misplaced.
Christopher: Right. (mutters) Uh oh, I’m starting to sound like Quartz.
Leiwell: (turning back to Christopher with fierce, bright eyes) You’re one to talk. You’re equally convinced that Damian’s conviction is misplaced.
Christopher: If you’re referring to Damian’s desire to seek power in the Shadow Forest, then yes. I do think it’s misplaced.
Leiwell: We appear to be at odds with our lovers as well as each other. Our love itself makes us their enemies.
Christopher doesn’t answer. He simply bows his head.