Day 21 – Chapter 12 – Marin – 10

            Rory had to practically sit on J.T. to prevent him from doing something else violent to Phelan.  I saw that out of the corner of my eye as I stared at Phelan with a mixture of shock and horror.
            We’re doing fineFive of us almost died—or something—three days ago and he said that we’re doing fine?  I swallowed twice before I could trust myself enough to speak, but Carolyn piped up before I did.
            She laughed weakly and shook her head.  “We hit a rough patch a few days ago.  Hard to believe that we’re doing ‘fine’ after that.”
            Phelan’s expression grew serious as he peered at each of us, then started to look around him.  He finally seemed to notice the bruises on my face, the dark circles under J.T. and Rory’s eyes, the stitches in Matt’s face as he walked past, outside the tent, arguing with Davon about something.
            “You weren’t just setting wards for the first time, then,” he said slowly, his voice somehow richer, darker.  It stirred the hairs on my arms, though not in a way I would necessarily categorize as bad.
            “No,” I said quietly.  “No, we weren’t.”
            Phelan stared at the fire for a moment.  “What happened?”
            I frowned and shook my head a little.  “Are you sure you have time to hear the whole story?”
            He smiled wryly.  “I think I’ve got the time.”

            Tala passed me a bowl of something steaming and I dug in with a spoon, having a few bites of some kind of stew and getting my thoughts in order before I began to talk.  I told him about the attack on J.T., Carolyn, and Drew a week ago, then about the attack three days ago.  Phelan’s expression went from serious to grim and then to blank as I described as much as I could remember, then looked to J.T., Carolyn, and Tala to fill in the gaps at the end of my narrative.
            Carolyn finally shook her head as she finished telling him what happened after I passed out.  “So we’ve been in a building frenzy since then, but we couldn’t do much about the wards until Mar woke up today.”
            By that time, I’d gotten some more of the stew into me and was thinking a little more clearly, watching his reaction for any sign of surprise or horror.  There was a little bit of both in his eyes as he looked at each of us in turn, lips thinning to white briefly before the easy smile reappeared.
            “Well, all things considered, I stand by my previous assessment.  You did far better than I could have anticipated under the circumstances.”  He looked down into his mug for a moment.  “Though I’m sorry I wasn’t here sooner.  You probably could have benefited a bit from my help, though perhaps not as much as you’d think.”
            I frowned at him for a moment.  “What do you mean?”
            He shook his head slowly, meeting my gaze head-on.  “I mean that they might have come after your camp sooner if I’d been here rather than waiting weeks and subverting one of your own to help them do it.”
            I went rigid.  We hadn’t said anything about someone subverting our wardings, just that they’d been damaged somehow.  J.T. took a quick, deep breath and Tala blinked a little.  Rory facepalmed and Carolyn slumped slightly.
            How did he know?  I cleared my throat.  “Who said anything about that?”
            “None of you,” Phelan said quietly.  “But it seemed likely from the way you described the camazotzi delaying when it tried to cross the wardings here, when they were chasing you.”  He gestured toward J.T. and Carolyn. “And the fact that they delayed for so long before mounting an attack.  Clearly, you had some sort of defenses beyond your own manifesting abilities.”
            Camazotzi?”  Carolyn asked.
            Rory made a face.  “Sounds Italian.”
            “Sounds like L’Engle,” J.T. said, frowning darkly.  “Was in A Wrinkle in Time, I think, but I could be wrong.”  He blinked at the strange look Tala and I gave him.  “What?  I wrote a paper on her for one of my 300-levels.”
            “It’s Mayan, actually,” Phelan said, mostly in response to Rory.  “It refers to a particular deity or monster in one of their mythic cycles.  A bat god.”
            Tala blinked.  That’s why it sounded familiar.  “I think I read about them once, a long time ago in one of my anthro classes.  One of the Twins cycle stories, I think.”
            Phelan shrugged.  “It’s entirely possible.  I just know what we call them isn’t necessarily what they call themselves, but the nomenclature is acceptable for our purposes.”  He smiled briefly.  “I’m impressed that you were able to turn them back, actually.  They’re nasty buggers.”
            I grimaced.  “Tell me about it.”
            “What about the little gray ones?”  Carolyn asked, hugging one knee against her chest.  J.T. slid his arm around her.  “What are they?”
            Phelan shrugged.  “I’ve always called them gremlins, but that’s not the proper terminology, either.  They’re one of those things from the old times, one of those things that most folks have forgotten how to see, but never vanished.  Those are everywhere.  The camazotzi, however, are not.  They’re one of those things that cluster near places where the ways between are thin, or where there’s power nexi.” His eyes grew momentarily distant.  I could feel him doing something, which startled me.
            I couldn’t usually feel things like that.  I watched him for a moment longer before he seemed to come back to himself.  He looked at me, tilting his head to one side.
            “Teague never mentioned that this place was practically on top of a major nexus point.”
            My mouth went dry.  Kellin, Rory, Drew, and I had discussed things like that from time to time, but no one had ever quite confirmed our theories on that quite like this.  “How do you know?”  I managed to ask.
            The corner of his mouth quirked upward in a slight smile.  “The same way you do, Seer.
            “I can feel it, too.”


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5 Responses to Day 21 – Chapter 12 – Marin – 10

  1. Oh snap, the shadows have a name! Thanks to Erik from Dear God What Have We Wrought?! for helping me figure out what to call them.

    Apologies for the strange formatting you may see going forward. I got a new netbook and I’m using it for most of my writing. Unless I paste from word and retain the span style tags, it doesn’t preserve the tabbing. I haven’t futzed around enough to figure out if it’s IE, Word 2010, or what causing the issue (Word 2003 > Chrome didn’t preserve the tabbing, either, but Word 2003 > Older version of IE did).

    Friday’s update is more fun interro–I mean talking to Phelan.

    Hm. Things might get interesting when Thom figures out he’s there…will more violence ensue? Quite possibly.

    Happy November 30!

  2. Antonious says:

    Oh jeez! That is such a fine thing to find out. They are setting up residence on top of what amounts to the magic equivalent of an oil dome. Anyone and everyone interested in using/possessing that magic will try to gain access by whatever means they choose. On the good side, if Marin and company learn how to use their abilities AND tap the nexus, it will make them more formidable. On the bad side, the presence of the nexus is going to attract an ever increasing number of evil beings. Among them will surely be those who will not appear evil and will use that to worm their way into the community in an effort to gain access to the nexus.

  3. Antonious says:

    Indeed. Like moths to the flame not knowing the why of their being there. Just knowing they feel right there.

Got thoughts?