[This post is from Matt’s point of view.]
“None of us do, I think,” Hecate said softly, looking up over her shoulder at him. “I feel like our imaginations would pale in comparison to the truth, regardless.”
“Likely,” Phelan agreed. There was an intensity to his gaze that Matt found familiar and slightly uncomfortable all at once. He’d felt the weight of that stare before, both in this life and his past one as Cíar. “You saw it, then? The ruthlessness, the violence?”
He nodded. “Clearly. I never told anyone about it. I decided it was safer not to, both so not to invite a repeat performance on Orcus’s part, but also not to encourage any sort of encounter between him and anyone else. Cíar insulted him once to his face and he took exception, which was the source of the first encounter. The second was about the Hunt. The third—” he broke off, exhaling. He could feel the pain of broken bones, long distant, the ache of torn muscles and deep bruises, and the fear—fear that he wouldn’t make it back, fear that this was, in fact, the end for him.
It hadn’t been, but the fear still left him cold.
“It could be something as seemingly small as a broken promise,” Matt said in a voice suddenly choked. He swallowed hard against the lump and bile that had risen, probably in response to the memories that belonged to Cíar and the soul they shared. “It could be an insult, something else. He was a god of death, just like she was.” He meant Leinth. He wasn’t entirely certain how their duties were different—he wasn’t sure they were—but then again, that had never much mattered to Cíar, whose world before the Hunt had concerned him with the powers in the north, not the south. When he’d led the Hunt, all that had really mattered was the job that needed to be completed next, the work of the Hunt. Politics had never mattered.
Nor had it truly mattered when he had worked with Hecate so long ago—only her safety, if he were brutally honest.
“A broken promise,” Phelan echoed, his brow furrowing. “Another god of death.”
Matt nodded, arms tightening around Hecate. “Yes.”
“I wonder,” Phelan said.
He didn’t complete the thought.