Twenty-three – 01

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

Midafternoon found them all back by the cookfire, with Tala silently stirring a pot of chili with a look so thoughtfully judgmental that Matt found himself wanting to shrink away. He barely managed to restrain himself from doing just that as he joined the circle. Marin and Hecate were there with Phelan, who half dozed against one of the log benches, Lin nestled in his arms. The infant was asleep, too, his thumb tucked into his mouth as he peacefully dreamed. Leinth was there, too, though Seamus was absent—unsurprisingly—and with her were both Neve and Cameron. J.T. sat with Jacqueline, their heads together in quiet conversation, as Carolyn bottle-fed Gwen while Tala cooked. Thordin and Sif arrived almost as soon as he and Thom did, both of them looking grim—Thordin must have told Sif the news. That much didn’t surprise him.

Matt cleared his throat quietly, glancing around before he started to pace, trying to work through the nervous energy that threatened to spiral out of control. He’d thought he was ready to explain what was going to happen to everyone.

He was surprised by how wrong he was about that.

Thom patted his shoulder and limped over to Marin, settling down next to her with a wince. Matt swallowed, glancing into the fire for a few seconds. The silence reigned awkwardly for a few minutes while Matt grasped for words he couldn’t quite find.

It was Never that came to his ultimate rescue, asking softly but pointedly, “So what are we actually dealing with here and what are we going to do about it?”

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