[This post is from Phelan’s point of view.]
The sound of the hammer stopped as they came closer to the door and for a second, Phelan held his breath, wondering if Matt was about to come out of the forge, if he was going to take a break. Then he heard the soft murmur of voices inside and exhaled.
“Matt and Thordin,” Jacqueline said softly. “We could do worse for this conversation.”
That’s true. Phelan nodded. “Aye.” He reached for the door’s latch, tugging it open and allowing the morning sunshine to flood into the small space. The sound of Matt and Thordin’s voices faded as both glanced toward the suddenly open door. Matt frowned and Thordin arched a quizzical eyebrow.
“What’s wrong?” Matt asked immediately, as if he’d been waiting for the other shoe to drop.
He probably has been, knowing him. He’s more like them than he’s ever thought about. Phelan glanced sidelong at Jacqueline, who drew a slow, deep breath.
“The peace is breaking down,” she said without preamble. “The camazotzi are probably what attacked our guests on their way here, based on what they said about it and what David’s wounds look like.”
“David,” Matt echoed, his gaze meeting Phelan’s for a moment. “That’s your nephew? Aoife’s son?”
Phelan nodded slowly. “Yeah. I can’t say I’ve gotten to talk to him.”
“I had to venture a guess, I’d say he takes a bit more after Gray,” Jaqueline said, squeezing him gently. “Though his talents are definitely along a family line.”
Phelan shivered. “What kind of talent?”
Jacqueline looked at him, then back to Matt, seemingly watching his face. “Something close to what Marin and Thom could do, but not the same. But close. I think he’s seen things that have brought them here. That’s my working theory, anyway, and they haven’t said anything that’s changed my mind about it.”
“They’re looking for Phelan,” Matt said softly.
“More than Phelan, I think,” Jacqueline said. “But I’m not sure how much more. Not yet.”
“And the camazotzi attacked them. You’re sure?”
“As sure as I can be at this point. They didn’t give a very in-depth description, but I’m sure if I show them some of the sketches from back then. I’m pretty sure they’ll recognize it as what attacked them.”
Matt’s lips thinned and he nodded, turning back to the forge. He exhaled softly, staring at the glowing embers. “That’s it, then, isn’t it?”
“We can hope it’s coincidence,” Phelan said.
“It’s not,” Matt said. “Though it’s a nice thought.”
It is. Even if it’s not true, it’s a nice thought. Phelan exhaled a sigh, closing his eyes. “We knew it wouldn’t last forever.”
“No. We just hoped it would last long enough.” Matt shook his head again and banked the forge. “It’s not like we ever really thought it wouldn’t happen.”
Phelan forced a sad smile. He knew different on that account.
They all did. They’d hoped it would hold—and hold forever.
A hope in vain, regardless.