Forty-three – 01

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

There was am ambient buzz in the air, the unmistakable signal that magic was up and surrounding us. I could feel the faint vibration of it against my skin, stirring hairs and sending currently through my nerves, through my flesh. It set my teeth on edge though I knew most of the magic was ours.

“Archers ready!” The words came without my thinking about them, as if I was functioning on autopilot. Maybe I was by then and just didn’t realize it. Someone had to maintain command, though, and at that moment, I was the only one left available.

“You can feel it,” Seamus whispered, watching me as I lifted an arm to signal to the others who couldn’t hear me over the sound of the storm, the screams, everything that the battle had brought along with it including the rumble of the ground, the explosions out in the field before us. He gazed at me, one hand clutching an arrow that had gone straight through, holding it steady—or something—until we could get him down off the wall and deal with the wounds he’d taken protecting me and his cousin and Hecate and my brother—protecting his family.

I took an unsteady breath, letting my arm drop. “Loose!”

A swarm of arrows launched from our walls, punctuated here and there by the reports of rifles. For a second, I closed my eyes, only half a heartbeat before another explosion rocked the world. Phelan’s doing, I suspected, though for all I knew, it could have been Matt’s. I could still see them without looking, just as I could still see Seamus’s pale, rain-soaked visage without looking.

“We’re winning the battle,” Seamus said, his voice fading slightly, though the conviction that hung heavy in it somehow made it seem stronger.

“But what about the war?” I asked in a whisper.

My eyes blinked open again as I raised my arm. “Archers ready!”

“You know what needs to happen.”

“The only thing that needs to happen is that army on the other end of the field disappearing,” I snapped, then shuddered. For a second, it had felt like I was speaking as two people—one living and another one long dead. From the corner of my eye, I saw Seamus wince.

“You can feel them starting to retreat.”

I could, but starting to retreat didn’t mean anything until the battle was over. I let my arm drop. “Loose!”

This time, a mighty crack of thunder punctuated my order, a bolt of lightning arcing downward into the heart of what remained of the mists that shrouded the army Olympium had brought—one far smaller than what I knew in my gut they could have mustered.

This was nothing. They could have come with so much more. Next time they will.

I wasn’t a fool. There would be a next time—there would always be a next time.

Lightning sheeted through the mists as the ground rippled, vines and roots and power ripping open the earth, swallowing some, devouring others, letting the rest stand or fall or drop their weapons and run. Seamus was right. I could feel it, and the feeling was disconcerting, something I’d ever experienced before.

Not in this lifetime, anyway.

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