Autumn – Chapter 6 – 05

            I went back to the ward-lines, Thom’s protests still echoing in my ears.  Carolyn came with me, leaving J.T. to organize the defenses back by the fire.  She crossed her arms tightly across her chest, staring at the ravine, at the trees.
            “What are they telling you?” I murmured softly.
            She shivered.  “That we might have enough time for Kellin to get back with Paul and Stasia and the flock.  Deadlocked down there, apparently, but getting uglier by the second.”  She glanced at me.  “I want to tell them to stop watching and come back to where it’s safe.”
            She meant the fairies, the tiny refugees from the shattered Shakespeare Garden that had been our allies since the day the camazotzi tore the garden apart.  Carolyn could see them without trying—I only caught glimmers when they wanted me to see them, and most of the others could only sense their presence.
            But they talked to Carolyn, trusted Carolyn, and thanks to that relationship, they helped us and we let them share our space, our wards, and our safety.
            A glimmer of green and blue on Carolyn’s shoulder told me that Longfellow—a young fairy who had a particular attachment to her—was about, probably perching there and relaying her the information.  I watched her for a moment, frowning slightly.
            “They’re smart enough to know when things are getting too hot, Care,” I said, resting my hand on her shoulder.  “Trust their judgment.”
            She nodded, eyes still focused far away.  “I’m going to have to,” she muttered, then sighed.  “You didn’t have to come out here with me.  I would’ve been fine.”
            I shook my head slightly.  “I could say the same thing to you.  One way or another, we’re out here together.”  My hand slipped from her shoulder as I walked to the nearest ward, a few feet away.  My skin prickled with the energy coming off of it; it was refreshing, like jumping into a cold pool on a hot day.
            Still intact.  That was good.
            “Nothing’s messed around with them since we set them again, right?”
            I nodded.  “Just the same as they were the day Phelan got here.  I don’t have any explanations for it.”
            “I thought maybe we were wrong about Leah,” Carolyn said.  I glanced back over my shoulder at her and she smiled wryly.  “Until today, anyway.  Until I heard what she said.”  Her smile faded.  “What does it mean?”
            “That’s why I needed to talk to Phelan,” I murmured.  “I wish he’d been of more help.”
            “Sounded like he was hearing voices, too.”
            “He was.”
            Matt had a shotgun propped against his shoulder as he joined us, expression grim.  “I didn’t want to tell you in front of everyone.  I don’t think he wanted to tell everyone.”
            I blinked at him.  “Why not?”
            Matt shrugged slightly.  “You don’t think he’s crazy, Thom doesn’t think he’s crazy, and sometimes I don’t think he’s crazy, but I think that Phelan thinks the rest of us might not judge him sane if he doesn’t at least make an effort to act like he is.”
            I snorted humorlessly and turned away.  “What else did he tell you?”
            “Not much,” Matt said, coming to stand between Carolyn and I.  “About the same as what you guys already know.  The shadow guy and that Vammatar chick are going toe to toe down there and he can sense them doing it.  He said it echoed and he was open so he started to hear it.  Rung his head like a bell.”
            “Was that when his eyes rolled back into his skull?”  Carolyn asked.
            Matt nodded.  “Yeah, that was about when it happened.  Thom started seeing shit and Jacqueline and I just kind of sat there for a second until Thom snapped out of it.  Jac couldn’t carry Phelan alone and neither of us wanted to leave Thom up there by himself.  We hadn’t been down by the fire for very long when you guys got back.”  He glanced at me.  “Where did you guys put Leah?”
            “Tied up inside of the supply tent.  Drew’s watching her.”  We’d checked on the way out to the lines.  She was still out like a light, a bruise forming where I’d clocked her.  Jacqueline could take a look at it later, we’d decided.  I shook my head.  “I didn’t want to believe that she—or anyone else—would betray us like that.  I guess I know why.”
            “If you could let me in on why, I’d appreciate it,” Matt said dryly.
            Carolyn glanced at him.  “I don’t think it’s that big of a logical leap to assume that if she was hearing their voices in her head that they’d been talking to her—or at least one of them was.”
            Matt frowned.  “So what does that mean for Phelan?  He could hear them, too, like they were broadcasting clear as day.”
            What does that mean?  I frowned a little.  “If I were to venture a guess?  Could be something and could be nothing.   If it means something, it’s that we’ve got an advantage.  Vammatar came after him up by the barrow.  They have some kind of history.”
            “What kind of history?”  Matt asked.
            “A very violent one,” Phelan said wearily as he joined us.  “Carolyn, are they still in deadlock out there?”
            She nodded mutely, staring at him for a moment before she said, “I thought you could hear them.”
            “Closed the door,” Phelan said, sitting down slowly on the ground near Matt’s feet.  “Took more effort than I thought it would, but I shouldn’t have been doing what I was doing in the first place.”  He smiled humorlessly up at me.  “It’s the kind of thing I kept telling Teague not to do because it’d get him killed someday.”
            “Well,” I said quietly, “I suppose it hasn’t yet, and it didn’t kill you this time.  Whatever doesn’t end us makes us stronger, right?”
            He grunted and nodded, looking away again.  “Yeah, something like that,” he muttered.  “Vammatar could, if she wanted to.  She almost did.  It’s the second time that’s happened.”
            “Second time?”  Matt looked askance at him.
            Phelan nodded slowly.  “Second time.  And if they’re still deadlocked out there, maybe I have time to tell the story.”
            Maybe it’ll give us some insights about how to fight her—and anything else that gets thrown our way.  “Well, then,” I said quietly.  “We’re all ears.”
            Phelan took a deep breath, exhaled it slowly, and then began to tell us everything.

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This entry was posted in Autumn, Book 2 and 3, Chapter 6, Story, Year One. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Autumn – Chapter 6 – 05

  1. Seraph says:

    Ooh, storytelling a la Phelan. Can’t wait.

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