[This post is from Phelan’s point of view.]
“Phelan! Phelan, wait.”
He paused, turning slowly to look back down the hill. Jacqueline was still carrying her basket of healing supplies as she hurried up the path behind him, the morning sunshine gilding her hair with golden light, giving her a halo effect that warmed him to the depths of his soul. She was as beautiful now as the day he’d laid eyes on her for the first time, now almost two decades past. He wished that the worried look on her face wasn’t so familiar, though, especially after all this time.
His stomach dropped and he reached for her basket as she came within arm’s length. “What’s wrong?”
She shook her head but let him take the basket. “You were going to go talk to Matt?”
He glanced up the hill toward the forge, where smoke already curled from the chimney, the faint sound of Matt’s hammer echoing down the hill toward them. “I was planning on it.”
“Good,” she said. “We can talk to him together.”
“Have you eaten?” Phelan asked her as they started up the path. “You went to check on our visitors pretty early.”
“I had some oatmeal and fruit before I went,” she said. “Someone’ll need to bring them something.”
“Is everything all right, then?”
“With them, for now, yes.” Jacqueline’s lips thinned and she glanced up toward him, chewing her lower lip. “Something bothered me about his condition.”
A chill shot through him. “My nephew.”
He swallowed against a lump in his throat. He hadn’t even gotten to speak to him yet. “David,” he echoed softly.
She squeezed his arm. “I know what attacked him, Phelan, and he’ll be okay.”
“You’ve always been,” she said quietly. “Thom always was.”
“Thom.” Phelan’s brow furrowed. “What—why—?” What does that…?
“I think they were attacked by camazotzi somewhere along the road. I didn’t get a good feel for how far away it was or how long ago it was, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it was. The wounds look right, especially knowing—well. Knowing who his family is.”
“Camazotzi,” Phelan echoed, feeling numb. He closed his eyes for a second. “Then the peace really is breaking down. The agreements—”
“We knew it was only a matter of time, especially after all of our enemies realized that they weren’t here anymore.”
Phelan wrapped his arm around her shoulders and squeezed her close to his side. “We need to tell Matt.”
“My thoughts exactly.” She nodded toward the forge door. “I just hope he’s up to it.”
“Why should he be when we’re not?” Phelan smiled crookedly and shook his head. “We’ll get through. Always do.”
“Somehow,” she agreed, wrapping her arm around his waist.
“Yeah,” Phelan murmured. “Somehow.”