Stoyt screamed, “Will you shut up? You old hypocrite!” Stoyt knocked him to the floor, and as Mr. Falck weaved dizzily on hands and knees, kicked him in the side with a heavy boot. The other two guards were holding back the sputtering Doremus. Stoyt jeered at Mr. Falck, “Well, you old bastard, you’re on your knees, so let’s hear you pray!”
In agony Mr. Falck raised his head, dust-smeared from the floor, straightened his shoulders, held up trembling hands, and with such sweetness in his voice as Doremus had once heard in it when men were human, he cried, “Father, Thou hast forgiven so long! Forgive them not but curse them, for they know what they do!” He tumbled forward, and Doremus knew that he would never hear that voice again.
“Don’t look back! Don’t look back, Soren! Believe!” But this time it was not Grimble calling. It was Gylfie. Just as they reached the stone rim, they felt a curl of warm air. And it was as if vast and gentle wings had reached out of the night, and swept them up into the sky. They did not look back. They did not see the torn owl on the library floor. They did not hear Grimble, as he lay dying, chant in the true voice of the Boreal Owl, in tones like chimes in the night, an ancient owl prayer: “I have redeemed myself by giving belief to the wings of the young. Blessed are those who believe, for indeed they shall fly.”
“No, this man, and those who agreed with him, weren’t talking about justice for the future. They just wanted revenge for the past. [Sighs.] After all we’d been through, we still couldn’t take our heads from out of our asses or our hands from around each other’s throats.“