Twenty-seven – 04

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

They stopped on a wooded hillside a mile from where Orcus’s army was encamped. Two scouts from the Wild Hunt waited for them there, huddled in jackets and under an old oilskin cloak that had probably come in handy more than once over either’s tenure with the hunt. The rain had tapered into a fine mist, though it was no less cold or uncomfortable than the drone of steady rain had been—just cold and uncomfortable in different ways.

Phelan swung down from his saddle first, trying not to wince at the cramping of his legs or the creaking of his back as his boots hit the ground. One of the scouts moved toward them, taking the reins of Marin’s horse as she, too, swung down from the saddle.

“Any change?” she asked.

The scout shook his head. “They’re still where we reported. Not much movement, either. Looks like he planned to stand by the bargain struck.”

“There wasn’t a bargain,” Matt said as he dismounted, then turned to help Hecate down. “It was a threat.”

The scout shrugged. “In any case, no movement. They’re not showing any signs of breaking camp.”

“We might actually be catching them unaware, then,” Thordin said. “That works to our advantage, at least.”

The scout nodded. “Do we have a plan, then?”

“Most of one,” Matt said. “We were waiting on a final look before we set everything in stone.”

“Likely wise,” the scout said. “They have high ground.”

“How high?”

He shrugged in response to Phelan’s question. “High enough. The approach could be dangerous.”

“The scouts said that there was a rise above their position,” Marin said. “Is there?”

“Yes,” the scout said slowly. “But it’s not easily accessible.”

“It doesn’t need to be,” Marin said. “Not for what we have in mind.”

The scout looked at them strangely. Marin smiled. Phelan bit the inside of his cheek to keep himself from doing the same.

“Just wait and see,” Marin said. “You might be surprised at how clever we can be.”

“Never, m’lady,” the scout said gravely. “Never surprised. Only in awe. You have more courage than any of us when it comes to these things, I think.”

“Fortune favors the bold,” she said, then smiled weakly. “With luck, it will favor us this time, too.”

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