[This post is from Phelan’s point of view.]
“Maybe it’s because of Orcus,” Hecate said, crossing her arms. “Maybe it’s because of what he’s doing—or something that whoever he’s drawn to his side is doing.”
“Maybe,” Phelan said. He blew across the surface of his tea, then risked a larger sip. It didn’t scald his tongue, but it burned its way all the way down his throat. He just hoped the herbs would kick in soon. It shouldn’t be long. Should kick in pretty quickly. Just—just relax. Breathe. This isn’t anything you haven’t handled before.
Of course, you haven’t handled it before in a situation like this, but you’ve still handled it before.
Marin squeezed his knee gently. He shivered again.
“I think he’s grown in power,” Hecate said quietly, bringing Marin a mug of tea before she sat down in front of them, her back to the fire, close enough to Marin and Phelan that her feet were tucked between theirs. Phelan found that he didn’t mind. Somehow, it felt safer with the three of them close together like that.
“You mean beyond where he was when Seamus managed to take him down?” Marin cradled her mug in one hand, leaving the other on Phelan’s knee. “That’s…that’s a little terrifying.”
“Tell me about it.” Hecate smiled weakly. “We’ll just have to be stronger—because we are.”
She said it with far more confidence than Phelan felt himself, far more than he expected from her. He stared at her for a few seconds, his brow furrowing. His voice came as a bare, raw whisper. “What are you sensing, Hecate? What do you know?”
“He wants me for a reason,” she said quietly. “The only good reason I can come up with is that whatever he’s trying to control out there? He doesn’t have full power over it. He’s not strong enough. That’s why he needs me. It’s probably something that I have more experience with, which means a few things.”
“Like what?” Marin asked softly.
“Probably dirae,” she said. “Probably the lampades. Maybe a few other things. I suspect that he’s tried to raid whatever strongbox of beasties Pluton had and has tried to bend them to his will. He’s strong enough to call them, but not strong enough to control them all. I’m half sure of it.”
“Only half?” Phelan asked with a slight, weak smile.
Hecate grinned at him. “Well. I sure as hell can’t be completely sure, right?”
He choked on a laugh. “No. No, I guess not.”
“Then there you go.” She took a sip of tea. “Now drink your tea.”