Thirty-eight – 06

[This post is from J.T.’s point of view.]

Thom didn’t argue with him, as if he’d decided that arguing would just end up being some kind of waste of energy. He just shook his head and kept moving.

What the hell is going on? J.T. swore again, a little more loudly this time, then tucked himself under Thom’s arm. His friend momentarily tried to shove him away, then settled down.

“I’m fine,” Thom growled. “I can do this.”

“I’m sure you can,” J.T. said, struggling for patience. “But it’ll be faster if I help you, won’t it?”

Thom exhaled a frustrated sigh but stopped trying to reject the offered help. He squeezed his eyes shut for a moment before they started to move again, headed for where Marin—and likely most of the others—were sure to be.

“What’s so important that it can’t wait?” J.T. asked as they moved from the hall into the tented areas of the settlement.

His friend’s jaw tightened. “A matter of life and death. Ghosts from the past.”

“Because that’s not cryptic as hell, Thom.”

“You asked what couldn’t wait. You didn’t ask for me to be clear about it, did you?”

J.T. shook his head. He’s got you there. “And if I asked you to be more clear about it?”

“I’d tell you that we’re wasting breath when you’re going to know in about five minutes anyway. Pick up the pace.”

J.T. didn’t have the heart to tell him that he didn’t think his friend was going to be able to handle a pace any faster than the one they were currently making. He kept his mouth shut, though, letting Thom try to move faster and keeping up with him, letting him set the pace.

The cluster near the fire had shrunk, but Marin was still there, Hecate and Matt with her. Tala and the twins, who had been there when J.T. had left them, were gone now, as were Stasia and several of the others—likely gone to go get their gear like he had or to get cleaned up and otherwise ready for what was coming. Even Phelan was gone, something that concerned J.T. more than he was willing to admit.

Where would he have gone? Back to the wall? Seamus is out there, isn’t he?

Thom let go of him as they got close, his pace picking up even more but his gait becoming even more unsteady. Marin turned from the fire as if she could sense him, her eyes widening.

“What are you doing up?” she asked, taking two steps forward in time to catch Thom as he stumbled and nearly fell. Her arms wound around him and he leaned into her chest, using her for support. “I thought you were asleep.”

“I was,” he said, his voice hoarse and raspy. “I was asleep. But something—” He stopped, then started again, reaching up to take her face between his hands. Calloused thumbs stroked her cheeks as he stared at her.

J.T. swallowed, glancing toward Matt and Hecate, half wondering if they felt as much like voyeurs as he did at that very second. They didn’t seem to, though—in fact, the look on Hecate’s face was—


“—something woke me,” Thom whispered. “I remembered something, Mar. I remembered it.”

“Remembered what?” She reached up to cover his hands with hers. “Thom, you shouldn’t be up. I need to—”

“No,” he rasped. “No, you need to listen. She cursed her, Mar. She cursed Brighíd. She cursed your soul.”

Marin sucked in a breath. Matt stood up slowly from where he sat on the ground, watching his brother-in-law closely, carefully.

“Who, Thom?” he asked quietly. “Who cursed Brighíd?”

“Cyhyraeth.” Thom swallowed hard, not looking away from his wife. “She cursed her, Mar—cursed you—down through the centuries. I remembered. I remembered.”

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