“The balance shifts,” one voice said softly. “It no longer favors one or the other. There are chances now.”
“The dead god joins them,” another voice said. “But will be fight for more than the protection of a Wanderer, a Dragon, and a Lady?”
“The Seers are powerful in their abilities to persuade,” a third voice added, traces of wry humor alive in the speaker’s tone. “But his presence does not guarantee success. Nor does possession of the sword.”
“Ah yes, the fabled and fated blade. Broken once and remade, will it happen again?”
“Does the king rise again? So soon?”
“No,” the first voice said softly. “There will come another. The custodian is a guardian, nothing more. A crownless king, a knight errant. He is not the one. Another will come.”
“A crownless king. Could he be?” the third voice asked. “Could it come to pass? Might he be the one?”
“Not on his current path. Not unless things change.” The voice sounded vaguely sad. “And I fear they will not. He will not see his son as a man.”
“You have said the same of many in the past. You were oftimes wrong.”
“I have been,” the first voice agreed. “And I hope I will be again. But I fear I am not.”
“Then we share that fear and that hope, Lady.”
“Perhaps if we hope hard enough, it shall come to pass.”
“Someone is watching.”
Eyes turned and the world exploded in shards of silver light.
I jerked awake, gasping raggedly and soaked in cold sweat. Thom stirred, one eye cracking open followed by the other.
“What’s the matter?” he mumbled in the darkness of our room.
“I don’t know,” I whispered. “I saw something.” I threw back the covers and started to get out of bed. His fingers wrapped around my arm and squeezed gently.
“Where are you going?”
“To check on the newcomers,” I murmured. Jacqueline and J.T. had Neve and Cameron cloistered in one of the nearby sheds. “And Phelan. He’s probably with them.”
“Unless he’s drinking the mead that Rory made with Thordin,” Thom said, rolling onto his side and watching me for a moment as I yanked on jeans and a sweatshirt. A moment later, he levered himself out of bed to join me.
“You can go back to sleep,” I said.
“And miss this?” He smiled at me in the dim. “Not a chance.”
He was still getting dressed when he asked, “So what was it?”
“What was what?”
“What you saw. What was it?”
I frowned, thinking of the trio of voices—two women, one man—that I hadn’t been able to quite see. But you could hear them and feel them. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say I was eavesdropping on the Morrigan and then that lady that showed up here and warned us about her many times son of her son or whatever.”
Thom frowned and slid his arms around my waist. “You’re sure?”
“I can’t be sure of anything anymore,” I said, leaning against him and resting my forehead against his neck and jaw. “As if I was ever really all that sure of anything I was seeing in the first place.”
“You certainly sounded like you were.” He squeezed me gently. “Let’s go talk to Phelan. Maybe he’ll be able to make heads or tails of all of it. What were they talking about?”
After a moment’s hesitation, I said, “They were talking about balances shifting. I heard…something about us maybe having a chance now. I think. Maybe.”
Thom blinked at me, then shivered. “On second thought, maybe we shouldn’t say anything to Phelan.”
“Because he’s worried enough about this whole Cariocecus thing as it is.”
Bloody hell. “I hadn’t thought of that.”
“Didn’t think so. Come on. Let’s check on the newcomers.”
We stepped out into the darkness of the makeshift hallway and headed for the pale sliver of light further down that marked where J.T. and Jacqueline were sitting up with our latest guests.
The door opened as we approached and Cameron, the man that Neve had been asking for, the man with the bright silver sword, stepped out into the dim. He stared at us for a moment, our faces illuminated by the glow from beyond him. I could see his brows knit in the dimness.
“I have a message for you,” he said quietly. “Is there someplace we can talk?”
“Why not here?” Thom asked, tilting his head to one side.
Cameron hesitated for a moment, then nodded slowly. “Your cousin…I think it’s your cousin, anyway. Kira? She wanted me to tell you something.”
Thom took a sharp breath. I squeezed his fingers tightly.
“You’ve seen her?” Thom whispered.
Cameron nodded slowly. “She said she loves you and she hopes that you’ll see each other again someday. She also said something else—and this is the important part.” Cameron took a deep breath.
“She said that we all make our own destinies and nothing—nothing—is written in stone. Not today, not tomorrow, not ever.
“There’s always hope. Always, always hope.”