Thirty-five – 03

[This post is from Hecate’s point of view.]

“Have you faced him before? On the field, I mean.” Tala moved back toward the other side of the fire and the pot she’d been tending. Hecate watched her, chewing at her lower lip.

“It’s a complicated question,” Hecate finally said softly. “There’s no simple answer.”

“How is it complicated?” Tala’s brows knit as she sat down, watching her. “Isn’t that usually a yes or no answer?”

“Usually,” Hecate agreed, then sighed, tilting her head back. “But when is anything ever simple when it comes to me?”

“Well, never, I guess,” Tala said. Hecate could hear the smile in her voice and cracked a smile of her own.

“Exactly.” She blew out a quiet breath and looked to the other woman, shaking her head slightly. “He came to Matt and I at my house—the place where I’d taken Matt when I took him from all of you. He demanded our allegiance or else.” Her gaze drifted toward the fire and she shifted Lin gently in her arms, resting him against her shoulder and rubbing his back, comforted by the weight of the infant against her chest and shoulder. “I hate ultimatums, for all that I’ve been known to throw them around.”

“I take it that he never really got your answer?”

“Not in so many words,” she said softly, watching the fire. “But I’m certain he knows what it is all the same, despite what he’d hoped. He’ll come. It’s only a matter of time. He’ll come and he’ll try to use whatever leverage he can to get all of us to join him. For him, it’s too often all or nothing. That’s what we all thought got him killed, but apparently we were mistaken.” Or perhaps we weren’t—perhaps he’s more like Thordin. Powers only know—I know that I don’t.

“Hell of a thing to be wrong about.”

“There’s a lot of things like that in my life, Tala,” Hecate said, then sighed. “More than I care to think about.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right.” Hecate managed a smile. “Sometimes it’s not all bad.”

Unfortunately, though, it’s usually worse.

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