As the Childlike Empress was speaking, Atreyu raised himself with difficulty. He looked up to her as she lay on her bed of cushions. His voice was husky when he asked: «Then you’ve known my message all along? What Morla the Aged One told me in the Swamps of Sadness, what the mysterious voice of Uyulala in the Southern Oracle revealed to me — you knew it all?»
«Yes,» she said. «I knew it before I sent you on the Great Quest.»
«Why,» he finally managed to ask, «why did you send me then? What did you expect me to do?»
«Exactly what you did,» she replied.
«What I did. . .» Atreyu repeated slowly. His forehead clouded over. «In that case,» he said angrily, «it was all unnecessary. There was no need of sending me on the Great Quest. I’ve heard that your decisions are often mysterious. That may be. But after all I’ve been through I hate to think that you were just having a joke at my expense.»
The Childlike Empress’s eyes grew grave.