[This post is from Seamus’s point of view.]
A cheer went up among a circle of men and women of the Wild Hunt as a sparring match ended. Seamus kept to the edge of their section of the camp, watching, hands shoved deep into the pockets of his jeans. There was a lump in his throat as he watched them, as he moved through the all-to-familiar structure of their encampment, slowing growing more and more permanent as the months went by.
Months, now. It’s been months.
It was still strange to think about, still strange to know he was free—and yet, in some ways, never would be.
We all carry our pasts on our backs even as we stare into our futures. His mother had said it to him long ago, in a time when he was still perhaps too young to really understand what she’d meant. Of all of his siblings, his memories of their mother had been the clearest. Their father had changed with her death—though that was a thing that all three of them, along with cousins Phelan and Aoife, clearly recognized. It was as if when his queen died, their father’s ties to the world they had adopted as their home began to break down.
Perhaps that had been exactly what had happened, what made it so easy for him to retreat to the Otherland that had birthed their people while the choice to go was so much more difficult for the rest.
As for Seamus, he’d felt the world shift when they’d left, but there was nothing he could do.
“I know that look,” Anselm said from somewhere to his right. Seamus took a slow, deep breath, turning to face him with a faint, crooked smile.
“Do you, now?”
“Oh yes,” the other man said, matching his former commander’s smile. “What’s chewing on you now, old friend?”
Old friend. A lump built in Seamus’s throat, a lump he swallowed down, tried to will away. “Memories old and new.”
“Ah,” Anselm said with a knowing nod. “Then I suppose I need to ask a different question.”
“And that is?”
“What brings you to this end of the walls.”
“Ah,” Seamus said quietly, gaze drifting toward the ring of soldiers. A new sparring match was starting. “That is indeed the better question. A far better question, though perhaps not as simply answered.”
Seamus took a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, staring at the soldiers without truly seeing them.
“I need you to help me prepare them all for war, old friend. It’s coming, and soon.”