[This post is from Phelan’s point of view.]
“Feels like old times, almost,” Thordin said, shifting in his saddle. “More or less loaded for bear, more or less information. The stakes are pretty much the same.”
“Pretty much the same,” Marin said, glancing past Phelan toward him. “Really.”
Thordin shrugged. “Near enough to. Everything back then was a lot more tenuous than anyone ever liked to talk about. I mean, look at how many stories didn’t make it to today. Think about all the history that got buried, or forgotten, or remembered wrong. There’s a lot.”
“I guess,” she said.
Phelan swallowed against a lump in his throat. If that wasn’t true, there would be no need for a Taliesin. There would be no need for anyone to have to dig deeper. There would be no more mysteries. It was all a double-edged sword, really.
Most things were, though.
He stared through the mist and rain at the road ahead, drawing his jacket tighter and standing just slightly in the stirrups to stretch his legs. His knees were starting to cramp a little, boding ill for the rest of the day to come. The damp chill of the rain was settling into his bones in ways that were much more unpleasant than he wanted to consider.
“He’s not wrong,” Phelan murmured. Marin startled slightly, glancing at him sidelong. He kept his gaze on the path ahead and exhaled a sigh. “We have to be more clever than Orcus will be. There’s no other choice. We don’t have the brute strength to beat him—I’m not sure anyone does.”
“Seamus did,” Matt said.
“Seamus outsmarted him,” Leinth said softly, just barely loud enough to be heard over the sound of the horses and the rain. “Brute strength isn’t how we win, nor is force of numbers. Phelan’s right. We need to be smart. The plan is sound. We just have to execute it properly—and maybe hope for a bit of luck.”
“If he’s torn the dirae or the lampades from Olympium’s grip, we might have the luck,” Hecate said. “Maybe.”
Phelan said nothing for a moment, holding his tongue. He didn’t want to give voice to doubts, or imagine aloud what could go wrong. He just hoped alongside them that they were right.