[This post is from Marin’s point of view.]
I heard Seamus’s voice as if it were distant, echoing down a tunnel to reach my ears. It wasn’t the first time I’d had that sort of experience, but this time I was sure the reasons were different. Nothing was attacking me, not yet.
Nothing except my own fear, anyway.
“Marin.” His voice was firm, somehow closer. I sucked in a breath and shook myself, looking at him.
“Right,” I said, my voice coming out hoarse and choked. I cleared my throat and took a deep breath. “Paul,” I barked. “Call it.”
“Heard,” he called back. The bell we’d rigged in the watchtower rang once, twice, and then again. He paused, then repeated the pattern. My attention shifted back to the mist gathered at the far end of the field. The rain was starting to come down harder now, but the mist remained.
Someone’s holding it there.
“Who would be able to hold that?” I asked without looking at Seamus. He shifted uncomfortably and held his peace for a moment too long, earning a sharp look. “Seamus.”
“There are a few,” he said, voice almost lost to the rain. “Dangerous to speculate. I could be wrong and that would lead us down the wrong path for how we’ll deal with whoever it is.”
I exhaled a curse. Matt touched my arm.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said quietly. “Aietes is driving this bus, Mar. He’s what we have to deal with.”
“Will he negotiate?”
“Not a chance,” he and Seamus both said at the same time, in the same breath. I jerked, startled, gaze bouncing between them.
“You both sound pretty sure.”
“Damned sure,” Seamus said, jaw tightening. “Not with us, usually not with anyone. He takes what he wants because honeyed words no longer work for him. He lost that sort of credit long ago.”
“He wants Hecate,” Matt whispered. “We can’t let him take her.”
“Never,” I promised.
The mist hadn’t moved, though the drums grew still louder, the rain harder. Thunder rolled. I took a breath.
So now we wait. Let them make the first move.
Others were starting to filter into their positions at the wall, moving quickly. I hoped that Hecate had managed to get Lin and Thom below, to safety. I wouldn’t be able to go and check myself, nor could I spare anyone with me for the task.
All I could do was hope and trust that she’d know what to do.