[This post is from Thomas Merlin Ambrose’s point of view.]
He stared at his hands and I watched him, drinking slowly. I could tell that he was thinking, letting what I’d already told him roll around in his head and my heart ached a little. He didn’t ask for what was coming.
Neither did you. Your parents didn’t, either—not yours and not his. They just picked up and kept on keeping on because there was no other choice in the matter, now was there? I barely managed to suppress a sigh, taking another deep swallow of tea before I cleared my throat and dared to speak.
“You remember the stories about the battle with Orcus and the truce?”
Tory glanced up and nodded slightly. “I remember that we never heard them ‘til we were older, that everyone would stop talking about it when one of us would come into the room, when they’d talk about them at all.” He frowned. “Which was admittedly not often at all.”
“For good reason,” I said, glancing toward my bookshelves. “I’ve read what my mom and dad wrote about it and—well. It seems like there was a sense of relief that followed the whole thing but at the same time, I don’t know that my mom and dad ever really shook the sense of a weight hanging over all of them. They knew that the agreement would break down eventually.”
“We don’t even know what the agreement was,” Tory said, leaning back in his chair.
“No,” I agreed. “But I’m not sure it matters, since the other side’s not abiding by it anymore.”
“Based on you being attacked.”
“Yeah,” I said. “Yeah, that and some other things.”
His brows knit again. “What other things?”
“Have you been watching them? Your mom and dad, Uncle Matt, Uncle Phelan, all of them? Really watching?”
“No. Have you?”
I sighed, staring into my mug for a few seconds. “Someone has to.”
“What’re you trying to get at, Lin?”
“You’re the one that asked.”
He threw his head back and made an irritated sound. “And I’m asking again.”
“The point is that the peace is breaking down and that makes shit’s going to get really real really fast that includes shit for us.” I gulped down the rest of the tea in my mug—probably faster than I should have—and winced. Everything still hurt, but staying in bed wasn’t going to be an option, not for much longer. “The travelers that came? Your cousin and the rest? They’re here in part because of that, because things are about to come unglued again and we’re going to have work to do.”
“You’re not making any sense,” he said, getting up to come and take my mug from me. “Are you sure you’re not—”
“Delirious? Crazy?” I smiled wryly. “Yes to the first, yes and no to the second. I know what it sounds like, Tory. It’s only going to get crazier from here.”
“Crazier,” he echoed, watching me as I threw back the covers and started to gingerly get out of bed. “Crazier how?”
“Let me get dressed,” I said, wavering as I got to my feet. At least I could get up without the room spinning. “We’ll go talk to them. It’ll make more sense that way.”
“What will make more sense? You still haven’t told me anything.”
I paused, chewing the inside of my cheek, then glanced at him again. He held my gaze steadily, concern and confusion mingled in his eyes. I exhaled a sigh.
“What do you want me to tell you, Tory?” I asked softly. “You want me to tell you that they’re here because we’re part of a prophecy? That our lineages and shit like that have written a destiny for us? Because that’s what I know. Because that’s what all of the stories and all of the books and all of the signs are starting to point to. Is that what you want me to tell you?”
He just stared at me for a few seconds more. His jaw tightened, his hands clenched.
Then he pivoted and walked out my door.