Nov. 29, 2011
Then girl and daemon looked up at the solitary bear. He had no daemon. He was alone, always alone. She felt such a stir of pity and gentleness for him that she almost reached out to touch his matted pelt, and only a sense of courtesy toward those cold ferocious eyes prevented her.
“Iorek Byrnison,” she said.
“Lord Faa and Farder Coram have gone to try and get your armor for you.”
He didn’t move or speak. It was clear what he thought of their chances.
“I know where it is, though,” she said, “and if I told you, maybe you could get it by yourself, I don’t know.”
“How do you know where it is?”
“I got a symbol reader. I think I ought to tell you, Iorek Byrnison, seeing as they tricked you out of it in the first place. I don’t think that’s right. They shouldn’t’ve done that. Lord Faa’s going to argue with the sysselman, but probably they won’t let you have it whatever he says. So if I tell you, will you come with us and help rescue the kids from Bolvangar?”
“I…” She didn’t mean to be nosy, but she couldn’t help being curious. She said, “Why don’t you just make some more armor out of this metal here, Iorek Byrnison?”
“Because it’s worthless. Look,” he said, and, lifting the engine cover with one paw, he extended a claw on the other hand and ripped right through it like a can opener. “My armor is made of sky iron, made for me. A bear’s armor is his soul, just as your daemon is your soul. You might as well take him away” - indicating Pantalaimon - ”and replace him with a doll full of sawdust. That is the difference. Now, where is my armor?”
“Listen, you got to promise not to take vengeance. They done wrong taking it, but you just got to put up with that.”
“All right. No vengeance afterwards. But no holding back as I take it, either. If they fight, they die.”
“It’s hidden in the cellar of the priest’s house,” she told him. “He thinks there’s a spirit in it, and he’s been a trying to conjure it out. But that’s where it is.”
He stood high up on his hind legs and looked west, so that the last of the sun colored his face a creamy brilliant yellow white amid the gloom. She could feel the power of the great creature coming off him like waves of heat.
“I must work till sunset,” he said. “I gave my word this morning to the master here. I still owe a few minutes’ work.”
“The sun’s set where I am,” she pointed out, because from her point of view it had vanished behind the rocky headland to the southwest.
He dropped to all fours.
“It’s true,” he said, with his face now in shadow like hers. “What’s your name, child?”
“Then I owe you a debt, Lyra Belacqua,” he said.
- Philip Pullman, His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass)