Twenty-three – 04

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

Carolyn blinked, staring at Hecate for a few seconds. “I probably already know the answer to this question, but I’m going to ask anyway. Why, exactly, won’t they have much reason to come if we fail?”

Now, Hecate did glance in Matt’s direction and he found himself swallowing hard against a lump that climbed higher and higher in his throat. She looked away after only a few seconds, her voice quiet and tone matter-of-fact. “He offered our lives in exchange for my joining him. If we fail, then I imagine that he’ll be doing everything he can to take me alive. If it means keeping anyone left behind here alive—or at the very least buying you all time to evacuate—then I’ll play him for as long as I have to. One way or another, I’m pretty sure that I can do that.”

“Pretty sure,” Carolyn echoed softly. She sat back, nodding, though her brow was still furrowed, either in concern or thought or both.

Matt took a slow breath, trying to calm his churning guts.

It won’t come to that. It won’t. It’ll be all right. You’re going to be able to stop him in his tracks where he’s at and then extract your peace—or deal with him once and for all. One or the other. Everything’s going to be okay.

For a second, his gaze slid toward Thom, then toward Marin. There wasn’t any indication from either of them that he was right—or wrong. He hadn’t expected it, anyway, nor was he entirely sure that he wanted it.

“So there’s a plan,” Rory said from where he stood, staring into the fire. “How many of us does it need?”

“As many volunteers as I can get,” Matt said. “We have to be smarter than he is but force of numbers probably won’t hurt.”

“It’ll depend on what we’re looking at,” Cameron said, chewing at his lower lip. Artorius was cradled in one arm, sucking on Cameron’s knuckle, eyelids slowly drooping. “But we won’t know that until the Hunt’s scouts come back, right?”

“Right,” Matt said quietly. “Does that mean you’re in?”

“I don’t see how I could decide otherwise,” Cameron said. Matt saw Neve wince, but couldn’t tell if Cameron had seen it. If he did, he didn’t give any indication. “You said you need everyone willing to volunteer.”

“Maybe we should figure out exactly how this is going to go down,” Leinth said. “Then we can get to the volunteering. We’re not going to be able to overwhelm Orcus with force of arms.”

“No,” Matt agreed. “We have to outsmart him and take the advantage away—and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Somehow.

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