His stomach rode some kind of awful roller coaster as he and Thordin urged the horses into a trot, then a gallop, heading for their unknown destination. He felt Neve wince every time the horse’s movements were particularly jarring and winced right along with her.
Never should have come this far like this. We should have waited longer to move on, no matter what she said.
But then we wouldn’t be here now, riding toward whatever threat needs facing for the sake of whoever needs us to face it.
“Another bend in the river ahead,” Thordin said. He shook his head, expression tight. “Not sure I see a good place to cross, either.”
“Bloody hell,” Cameron muttered under his breath. “We can’t catch a goddamned break, can we?”
“No one said any of this was supposed to be easy,” Thordin pointed out.
“No, but we’d be a lot more likely to show up in places we need to get to in a timely manner if the powers that be thought a little further ahead,” Cameron growled. He squinted toward the spot Thordin pointed to, toward the wide ribbon of the river. He mumbled a crurse under his breath.
“We’ve got to find a way across, Thordin.”
“Saying it isn’t the same as making it happen,” his companion said.
“Will getting angry and demanding it happen work?” Cameron shook his head and kicked his horse into motion, trusting Thordin to follow.
“Maybe someday,” Neve whispered faintly into his neck, answering his rhetorical question. “But maybe not today.”
Cameron could barely stop the shiver starting at the base of his spine. Don’t think about that. Goddamn it, don’t think about that. “We’ll just have to find a way across,” he said again, arm tightening slightly around his lover. There isn’t a goddamned choice in the matter.
They rode past the ruins of houses, past a shattered church that still stank of burnt flesh and decaying bodies. Cameron swallowed the bile that bubbled up in his throat and hung onto Neve as she twisted and offered what little she’d eaten that day to the ground alongside the horse. She gave a little moan as she settled against him again, dishrag-limp and shivering.
“Looks like the roadway here is in bad shape,” Thordin reported, staring at the twisted mass of broken concrete that spanned the river. “Not sure we’ll be able to get the horses across. Grade looks too steep.”
Never mind trying to carry Neve across that mess. Cameron frowned darkly. “Do we have a choice?” His nose had closed against the lingering nearby smell, but there was something else that left his stomach unsettled.
Then, he heard it—a voice he’d hoped to never hear again.
“Get of Princes, get of gods,
Smelling like desperate fear,
Bloodlines strong and bloodlines mixed,
Won’t save the Wanderer’s get from being nixed.”
“Fuck.” The curse dropped from his lips like ice sliding off a slick rooftop. That’s the thing that hurt Neve. The—what was it? Firbolg? How the hell did it get here ahead of us? Why the hell is it here?
Christ. Her family. It’s hunting all of them, not just her. Damn it!
“We don’t have time,” he said abruptly. He checked himself, arm tightening around Neve again. Hang on to me, Neve. Trust me.
God, I hope I know what I’m doing.
“What the hell—?”
Thordin didn’t have time to get the question out. Cameron set his heels into the flanks of his horse and pounded toward the gap.
Somehow, some way, strength of will would have to do the rest.