[This post is from Marin’s point of view.]
“I am going to assume from the hushed tones and the reluctance to even float the idea means that this guy would be bad news,” Tala said, fixing plates for me and for Hecate. She brought them over, watching my sister-in-law and Phelan. “Are we going to elaborate at all on this theory and why we should all be duly terrified?”
I didn’t need more than the tones and the what-if that Phelan had started his statement out with to end up—as Tala put it—duly terrified. I took the plate from her, balancing it on my knee as I chewed my lower lip.
Phelan and Hecate were still looking at each other—she didn’t even look at Tala when she offered her the plate. Matt took it instead, frowning slightly. Tala kept standing there, watching them, waiting.
“I don’t know much about him,” Hecate said. “Do you?”
Phelan took a slow breath, rubbing at his temple. “I’d hoped you’d know more than I do. Most of what’s come to me is rumor and hearsay—stories.”
“Sometimes stories are all we have, Phelan,” Hecate said softly. She took a quiet breath, closing her eyes for a second. Matt nudged her elbow gently and she startled, eyes popping open. She glanced at him, then at the plate he held, and smiled faintly as she took it. “Thanks, Tala.”
“Sure,” Tala said softly. “So if all we’ve got are stories, what do those stories say? Is he terrifying or what?”
“Based on the stories? A little of both.” Phelan sighed, starting to pace again. I winced as I watched him, able to imagine the storm raging inside of him. “He’s another deity of death.”
“That doesn’t automatically make him terrifying,” Tala said, canting her head slightly. “I mean, knowing Leinth, she’s not that terrifying.”
“Only if you’re her enemy,” Phelan said. “That’s when she gets terrifying. Don’t forget when we first encountered her here. She was fairly frightening then.”
“He’s not wrong,” I said.
Tala shrugged. “Even so. What would make Orcus so bad as an enemy? What would we be facing?”
“After so long, it would be hard to say,” Hecate whispered, scrubbing her free hand over her face. “Hell. I’m not sure I ever could have said with any degree of accuracy.”
“Because you’ve never faced him,” I said, looking at her.
“Right.” She leaned back against Matt, frowning. “And from the sound of it, neither has Phelan.”
“I haven’t,” he confirmed. “That’s the worst part of it.”
“You haven’t,” Matt said quietly. “But I have.”