Winter – Chapter 40 – 02

“Now,” Kira said as she gently brushed hair back from his face, “tell me about these dreams. What do you see?”

Teague’s lips thinned and he glanced away again, exhaling in a heavy sigh.  “I am not the seer,” he murmured, knowing the words were a lie—and knowing full well that she knew the words were a lie as well.

“Tell me anyway,” she said softly.  “Getting it off your chest may help.”

Or it could make it real.  He closed his eyes.  Inside the cabin, there was no sound, no sign of their son stirring from his sleep.  No rescue there, unfortunately.  He exhaled again.

“I saw their sons,” he said quietly.  “I saw their sons and ours on horseback, riding into a mist along a river.  Then I saw a girl, older, with the markings of a druid and Phelan’s staff riding after them.  I saw Neve and Marin, huddled together in darkness, heavy with child.”  I saw you, hair gone to white but face still so young, standing on a cliff and staring at the water as the boats sail toward you.  “The war is coming,” he whispered softly.  “A war is here.”

“We knew that,” Kira said.  “You told me that a long time ago, before this began—before you even told me that the world was about to end.  You told me about the war.”

“It’s worse than I imagined,” he whispered, eyes sliding shut.  “Déithe agus arrachtaigh, oh, Kira.  It’s so much worse than I imagined.  I knew that some would return, but I didn’t realize.”

“Didn’t realize what?”

“That they’d all return,” he breathed.  “I didn’t realize that they’d all return.  They’re all coming, Kira—all of them, all of them that still walk the Otherworlds, all of them that have ever walked this world.  They’re coming and it’s going to be worse than I ever could have imagined, even in my darkest nightmares.”

“What’s coming?” she asked.

“The others,” he said.  “The others are coming.”

 

•          •          •

 

Aoife stared into the crackling fire, arms wrapped tightly around her knees.  Her side still ached where she’d been shot, the wound that had nearly killed her.  The wound had healed, but the pain was still there.

Is that ever going to stop?

“You’ve been staring at the fire for hours,” Gray said softly.  “What’s the matter, Aoife?”

“I have to leave,” she whispered.  “I can’t stay, Gray.  Even if I want to stay, I can’t.  There’s a war to be fought and I’m a part of it.”

“I told you before that you didn’t have to do it alone.”  He sat down next to her, on the rug in front of the fire.  The lodge was quiet, though a storm howled outside.  “I’m not going to let you go alone.”

“I’m not going to give you a vote,” Aoife breathed.  “One night I’ll just—”

“You won’t,” he said softly.  “Because I won’t let you.”

“I can’t let you get wrapped up in this,” she said.  You’re already too involved.  I’m not going to drag someone else down along with me—not like all of them did in the past.  Not me.  Not this time.  She rubbed her side.  Even if the idea is nice—of not being alone.

I’ve been alone a long time.

Gray’s arm settled around her shoulders.  Her eyes stung.

“I have to protect you,” she whispered.  “The only way I can do that—”

“It’s not your decision to make.”  His arm tightened.  “We’re already involved, Aoife.  We’ve already been sucked in and that’s not changing.  Teca and me and Kes and Wat—we’re all in this with you.  You can’t push us away now.”

She squeezed her eyes shut.  But I have to.  I don’t have a choice.

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