“So he doesn’t remember anything?”
Thom shook his head miserably, knuckling his eyes. “Just going over the edge and then being in the river, which I’m pretty sure he’d like to forget if he could.” He hunched slightly, resting his elbows against his knees as he perched on one of the rocks out near the well. Life had abruptly gone back to normal for everyone except for the barest handful—except for he, Marin, J.T., Jacqueline, and Matt, the ones closest to Phelan.
He’d fallen asleep again after telling Thom the story and drinking half the bottle of water. Jacqueline was keeping an eye on him for the day shift. Thom had every intention of heading up to help Matt with the foundations for his forge as soon as he was done passing along what Phelan had said to Marin and J.T., who were with him out here, yards from either the half-constructed walls or the tent and sheds.
Marin slumped down onto the rock next to him. “I can’t believe it. If he doesn’t remember whether or not he killed her, how do we know whether or not we’re even safe?”
Thom grimaced as he slid his arm around her shoulders. She leaned against him, pressing her forehead against his neck.
“You’ve got that look, Thom,” J.T. said, crossing his arms. “There’s more.”
“Is there?” Marin looked up at him, brows knitting briefly.
He nodded. “Yeah, there’s more.” He shifted uncomfortably, looking away from both of them and staring at the clouds that drifted lazily in the autumn sky. “He said there was one other time that something like this happened—that he couldn’t remember what happened after a fight, after he went toe-to-toe with someone.”
“What happened that time?” Marin asked. A flicker of pain flashed through her eyes and was gone. Thom swallowed a little, wondering why it had been there.
Focus. Stay on task, here. “He said it was forever ago, back before whenever that story he told about crossing the ocean and everything happened.” Thom frowned slightly. “Still don’t know what I think about that one, but who the hell knows, right? Anyway, back in the old country, he’d somehow gotten mixed up with this tribe or clan or something called the Imbolg.”
Marin went stiff in his arm.
What the hell? He opened his mouth to ask what was wrong, but she shook her head before he could.
“Keep talking,” she whispered. “Just tell us the story.”
“Right,” Thom said, shaking his head quickly to clear it, though he couldn’t quite escape the nagging worry at the back of his brain.
Just tell them what he told you. “They’d gotten sucked into some kind of Otherworld war or some shit, like out of mythology. Phelan said it was like the Trojan War but bloodier, if you can believe that.” He saw J.T. wince out of the corner of his eye, the other man’s face already the color of ashes. He’s not going to like where this leads. “Phelan decided he’d better help them out because it was kind of his fault they’d gotten involved in the first place. That’s what he said, anyway.”
“Christ,” J.T. grumbled. “Is there ever a time when he hadn’t sucked someone else into trouble that’s ten feet over their heads?”
“You’d have to ask him,” Thom said. “I’m honestly not sure that the Imbolg getting involved was actually his fault, but I wasn’t going to press him on that after I’d already pressed to get the story in the first place.
“So anyway, he finds out from this blind druid guy that’s some high-ranking dude in the tribal hierarchy that there’s another person like him with the army that the Imbolg are about to face, except the guy’s from another Otherworld. That makes up Phelan’s mind for him completely and he recruits maybe thirty, forty guys from some other villages to join up with the Imbolg before this big battle—except they show up late to the party.
“Now, according to him that turns out to be a great thing, because he ends up behind the enemy’s lines with a really great shot at the Big Bad’s back.”
“Why is this sounding like a D&D game, Thom?”
He smiled wryly at J.T. “Because I’m pretty sure if he’d been a little more lucid and had access to minis or action figures or something, Phelan would have given me the play by play complete with visual aids and sound effects.”
Marin sighed, fingers tangling in the fabric of Thom’s shirt. “Stay on track. What happened?”
“Well, he took the shot.”
Thom grimaced. “And he missed. Then the guy noticed him and the next thing Phelan knew, they were shouting explicatives and threats at each other across the battlefield and the gap is closing between them and the guy’s swinging a warhammer at him.
“That’s the last thing he remembers before waking up in the Imbolg camp two days later.”
“What?” Marin blurted. “He got hit by a—Thom! What’s the point of this story?”
“The point is that Phelan killed the guy.”
Autumn – Chapter 10 – 02
“So he doesn’t remember anything?”