The update for Wednesday, January 30, 2019 will post sometime during the day rather than at midnight!

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Ten – 07

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

My knees felt weak and I slowly moved to sit down on one of the log benches. I took a slow, deep breath as I sank down, one hand moving to rest on my son’s back, the other gripping my coffee cup with white knuckles. “Okay,” I said softly, mostly to myself. “Okay. So we have a new threat incoming.”

Matt looked up at me and nodded slowly. “Sounds like it,” he murmured, then sighed, resting his head against Hecate’s. “Here I was thinking—hoping—that it’d be a quiet one.”

“It’s never a quiet one,” she said softly, reaching to ruffle his hair. “You know that.”

“Do you know anything about their enemies?” I asked. “Leinth and Seamus’s?” I glanced between her and Phelan, my heart feeling like lead in my chest. The list just kept growing—I wondered if it would ever stop.

I didn’t think it would, but I could hope.

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Ten – 06

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

“Something’s coming,” Leinth said before Phelan could start explaining. My gaze snapped toward her and she met my eyes steadily, expression grim. “An old enemy.”

“Which one?” I asked slowly, surprised that I didn’t feel anything at the words. Slowly, I took a sip of coffee, watching, waiting.

“One of mine,” she said, as if that explained everything. “One of Seamus’s, too, I suspect.”

“How much time do we have?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said, then looked at Phelan. “Though it did explain the bad feeling that both Phelan and Tala had this morning, doesn’t it?”

“We’ve all been having them,” Hecate said, drawing her face away from Matt’s shoulder to look up at us. “For days, almost.” She exhaled, wiping her eyes and sitting up a little straighter. “I’m sorry. I didn’t—I didn’t mean to burst into tears like that.”

I smiled and shook my head. “It’s okay, Hecate. I think I cried a little bit, too, when I figured out I was pregnant and started telling people. It’s…it’s emotional.”

“It is,” she agreed softly. “It…it really, really is.” She seemed like she wanted to say more but chose not to. I drifted over, handed Matt the cup of coffee I’d poured for him.

“So there’s something coming,” Matt said quietly. “When?”

“I don’t know,” Leinth said. “I just know I can feel it.”

“But not what—who,” Phelan said, watching her carefully.

“Not yet,” Leinth said softly. “But I haven’t woken Seamus yet, either.”

I winced. “Are you going to have to?”

“Probably.” She studied me for a few seconds. “Unless you can sense something.”

I shook my head. “No,” I said softly. “And I haven’t seen anything, either.”

“Then I’d best go wake him,” Leinth said, a measure of regret in her voice. She gulped down some coffee and turned to go. I winced, scrubbing a hand over my face.

“Wait,” I said. “I could try the cards.”

“That’s a gate I’d rather not open, I think,” Leinth said, smiling sadly at me. “Stay here. I’ll be back.”

“Should we post extra watches?” Tala asked, looking at her. “Be ready for imminent attack?”

“We’re always ready for imminent attack,” Leinth said quietly. “The question is always who is about to come.”

She took her cup of coffee with her as she walked away.

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Ten – 05

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

Phelan stared at me for a few seconds longer, his brow furrowing.  There was no censure in his gaze, only the faintest sense of confusion, a sense I could wholly understand.  He must have been wondering if it had been something I saw, if the we meant Thom and I or me and someone else—perhaps even me and Hecate, considering the length of our conversation the day before and the development of our relationship over the past weeks.  There were likely a thousand thoughts going through his head, none of them ones I was privy to, but most of them ones I could guess.

I looked away, went to the fire, got some coffee.  After a moment’s hesitation, I poured one for Matt, too, knowing that once he got over his initial shock and the need to comfort Hecate—why she was upset, I couldn’t be sure—he’d appreciate it.  Tala shot me a worried look.  I just shook my head slightly.

Her brow arched and the faintest frown curved her lips, then she shrugged and sighed, turning back to the skillets and pans.  That was safer.  We both knew it.  She had that luxury.  I didn’t.

“Well,” she muttered, “it’s been quite a morning already.”

I frowned.  “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Tala glanced at me again, her brow arching, then jerked her chin toward Matt and Hecate, Phelan and Leinth.  “Ask them.”

“Now that’s not—” Phelan aborted his protest as I turned to eye him along with Leinth.

“What’s going on?” I asked.  “What did we walk in on?”

“Bad feelings, oath-exacting, and more bad feelings,” Leinth said, crossing her arms without spilling her coffee.  “Does that answer your question?”

It did, but not to my satisfaction.  “Oaths and bad feelings,” I echoed, glancing between the two again.  “Elaborate, please?”

Phelan sighed, scrubbing his hand over his face again.  “Are you sure you really want to know?”

“I’m asking.”

“Right,” he mumbled.  “Right.”

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Ten – 04

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

I wasn’t sure if I’d heard her correctly. I stood with stomach sinking, palms sweating, staring at her and Matt, my heart starting to beat a little faster. I cleared my throat, mouth dry. Words wouldn’t come.

Was it that I wasn’t sure that I’d heard her correctly, or that I wasn’t sure that I wanted to hear her correctly?

Even as my stomach kept sinking, my heart was trying to leap out of my chest. Pregnant. If I’d heard her right, I was going to be an aunt, my brother would be a father—they would be a family, something that she’d been seeking all her life, ever since hers had been ripped away from her centuries ago by Olympium.

The very same people that at every turn seemed to appear to destroy her happiness every time she found it.

I sucked in a deep breath as Matt echoed her, “Pregnant?”

I saw her nod, drawing back enough to look at him. She searched his face, watching him, traces of fear and need in her eyes, so huge that it made my throat tighten. Matt took her face gently between his hands, his brows knitting.

“Really?” he whispered, thumbs stroking her cheeks. “You’re—we’re—?”

She nodded hard.

Matt started at her only half a second longer before his arms were around her. He was laughing, though I was sure I could see tears gathering in his eyes.

I’d never seen him so happy.

From the corner of my eye, I saw Phelan look at Leinth. “How did you figure it out?” he asked her. A chill shot through me and I looked at her, too, canting my head to one side. Leinth just smiled weakly.

“I didn’t know,” she said softly. “I just strongly suspected—as I imagine at least some of the others did.” Her gaze slanted toward me and I looked away, back to Matt and Hecate. I shook my head slightly.

“We only dared,” I whispered, watching them, and said nothing more.

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Ten – 03

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

As far as I was concerned, based on the smell of breakfast, it was just another normal morning. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself as Matt and I headed for the glow of the cookfire. I could hear voices drifting from the area, though nothing distinct, the sounds blending together even as we drew closer. My gaze roamed as we walked, looking around and taking in quiet motions of the waking village, of people heading about their business.

There was still an almost subdued air to everything, though, one I’d hoped that I wouldn’t sense, but did anyway.

I’d just opened my mouth to say so when Matt tensed, letting go of me as we got closer to the scent of breakfast and the light of the main cookfire, drawing away, moving faster. I blinked, glancing at him and then ahead.

I could see Hecate clinging to Phelan, her face buried against his shoulder. Leinth was standing near the fire, her expression grim, and Tala hovered near the edge of the fire, tending skillets of food, but she looked worried, too. My stomach lurched.

What happened?

Grá mo chroí,” Matt said, kneeling down next to Hecate and Phelan. “What’s wrong? What’s going on?”

Phelan shot me a desperate, concerned look even as Hecate let go of him and wrapped her arms around Matt. I caught the barest glimpse of her face, catching sight of tear-stained cheeks. My stomach dropped further.

“What’s going on?”

“I don’t have words for what’s going on,” Phelan said, his voice hoarse. He glanced toward Matt and Hecate—Matt, who’d sat down fully and drawn her into his lap. Her face was buried against his neck, but her shoulders had stopped shaking. There was a damp spot on Phelan’s shirt.

I grimaced. “Really.”

“Really,” Phelan said, scrubbing a hand over his face.

Then, her voice muffled by Matt’s neck, came Hecate: “I’m pregnant.”

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Ten – 02

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

“I didn’t realize it would bother him that much,” Matt said quietly, looking down. “Neither of us really slept that well, either.”
“You and Hecate?”

He nodded. “Yeah. I don’t think she realized how little I actually slept.”

“Is that why you’ve got that look?”

He glared sidelong at me for a second, but I could tell his heart wasn’t quite in it. I put an arm around his shoulders and squeezed gently.

“It’s okay. It’s okay to be upset, Matt.”

“Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Upset?” He studied me for a few seconds even as he slid his arm around me. “Maybe dwelling?”

“Dwelling, maybe,” I admitted. “Upset? Only because Thom is. I don’t know what’s going on. He’s acting a little weird.”

“Mar, your husband’s always weird.”

I choked on a laugh. “Matt.”

His expression was the very picture of incredulous innocence. “What? Tell me I’m wrong.”

“You’re not,” I admitted. “But I’m being serious here. He’s acting funny and I’m a little concerned.”

Matt sobered, brow furrowing slightly. “What’s going on?”

“He’s dwelling,” I said softly. “He’s dwelling on things that don’t matter anymore and I don’t know why and I don’t think I can get him to tell me.”

There was a silence as we got closer to the end of the hallway. Then, finally, Matt said quietly, “I’ll talk to him. Maybe he’ll open up.”

“That would be incredible,” I said, squeezing him gently. “It really would. I’m just—I’m worried, Matt.”

“You do that a lot,” he said, hip-checking me gently. “Worrying.”

“Usually for good reason.”

He winced. “Yeah,” he said quietly. “Usually.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I don’t mean to be some kind of downer.”

“You are certainly not the downer.” Matt shook his head slightly. “There’s a lot of stuff to be concerned with and you seem to find the right things. I trust you, sis. Always have.”

I rose up on tip-toe to press a kiss to his temple. “You keep me grounded, little brother. That’s important, too.”

“Love you, Mar.”

“Love you, too.” He kissed my cheek and together, we emerged from the hallway and into the tends beyond. I could smell coffee and breakfast and that soothed nerves that were more ragged than I realized.

It was just another normal morning. That was all.

Just another normal morning.

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Ten – 01

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

“You’ve got that look,” I said to my brother as he emerged from his room into the hallway’s gloom. He squinted at me in the dim, frowning briefly.

“What look?”

“What’re you worried about?” I asked by way of answering his question. I crossed my arms, which mostly had the effect of looking like I was cradling Lin in the sling across my chest, but I figured he’d get the point one way or another.

Matt made a face and I knew that he had. “It’s nothing you need to worry about.”

“Really.”

His expression darkened. “Yes, really.”

I didn’t buy it, but he knew that. So I just shrugged and let my arms drop. “Fine.”

I started toward the cookfires and he fell into step with me, shoving his hands into the pockets of his hoodie and brooding as we walked.

“Is it the day?” I asked after we’d gone a dozen steps. I glanced toward him, my brow arching. He scowled at the ground in front of his feet. “The date on the calendar?”

“I don’t know why we keep track anymore,” he muttered.

“I know it doesn’t seem like it makes sense,” I said. “But there are things we want to be able to track. You don’t want to know what your nephew’s birthdate is?”

Matt heaved a sigh but didn’t look at me, just kept walking. His silence was all I needed to know that I was right, he did want to know things like that. I also knew that it probably was the day that at least was part of what was upsetting him.

The rest? I had no idea.

“Thom still in bed?”

I nodded. “He’ll be up soon, but for now, he’s getting some more sleep. He didn’t sleep very well last night.”

There was a hesitation, then he asked, “The day?”

I just nodded.

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Nine – 05

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

Phelan’s brows knit and he looked between the two women as he slowly sat back down, gaze lingering on Hecate for a few long seconds. The shadows beneath her eyes concerned him, as did the way she seemed to almost curl in on herself. It was as if she was somehow trying to make herself smaller.

It was worrisome, to say the least.

He opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off without looking at him.

“I would have your word of honor, Taliesin,” she whispered. “Your oath.”

He blinked. “What?”

Then she looked at him, her eyes gleaming from the shadows around them. “Your oath, Phelan,” she said. “I would have you swear to do something for me.”

“That depends—”

“On what it is?” There was the barest hint of a smile curving her lips, something almost sad about that smile. Phelan slowly reached for her arm.

“Yes,” he said quietly, already knowing he’d give it to her, no matter what it might be. This was a woman utterly changed—or perhaps simply unbound—from who she’d been in so many of the centuries that had gone before.

Hecate only nodded. There was no rancor in her tone, no censure in her eyes as she looked at him. “I need you to promise to protect him if anything ever happens to me.”

Phelan’s hand settled on her arm even as his eyes widened. Hecate watched him, her expression unchanging, her eyes searching his. It was hard to breathe; he felt light-headed.

What the hell is going on? What does she know that I don’t?

“You don’t even have to ask,” he managed in a choked voice. “<gods and monsters>, Hecate, you never need to exact a promise like that from me because I’ve already made it. What’s going on? Why this? Why now?”

She shook her head slightly. “That’s not important.”

“The hell it’s not,” he protested hoarsely.

“It isn’t,” she said, reaching to cover his hand with hers, gently gathering up his fingers to lift them from her arm. She squeezed them gently. “It’s just insurance, Phelan. That’s all. And—” she stopped, swallowing hard before she started again. “And it would give me a great deal of peace of mind to know that you’d be oathbound to it.”

His brow furrowed, but he nodded. “All right,” he said. “All right. You—you have it. You have my oath. Should anything happen to you, on my honor, I’ll protect him with my own life.”

Her shoulders sagged in relief. “Thank you,” she said.

Then she hugged him, tightly, pressing her face against his shoulder.

As he wrapped his arms around her, Phelan could have sworn he felt her tears starting to soak into his shirt—though perhaps it was just his imagination.

It was, after all, shaping up to be a very strange morning, all things considered.

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Nine – 04

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

“Think what?”

The soft voice belonged to Hecate, who was wrapped in a shawl and a knee-length dress over leggings as she appeared from the gloom beyond the cookfire’s light. She was pale and Phelan’s stomach dropped. He set down his plate and started to stand up.

Leinth glanced at him, frowning, then turned back to Hecate. “Can you feel it, too?”

Hecate stayed quiet for a few long moments, then said softly, “I’d hoped it was nothing more than my imagination.”

Phelan stopped, staring at her for a second, even as Leinth moved toward her and put a hand on her arm, shawl-shrouded though it was. There were dark circles under Hecate’s eyes, ones he’d thought were simply a trick of the light but something he could see now was far more than that.

“What is it?” Leinth whispered, reaching up to brush a stray lock of unbound hair back from Hecate’s face. It was a tender, almost maternal gesture that made Phelan swallow. Hecate looked at Leinth, her expression a little strange, though not exactly upset—not at the gesture, at least.

She shook her head slightly. “I had nightmares.” She moved past Leinth toward Phelan’s abandoned seat near the fire, sinking down to sit next to where he now stood. “Every time I tried to get back to sleep and thought that maybe they wouldn’t come, that maybe I’d reached the end of them, but they just kept coming, over and over again.” She drew her knees to her chest, hugged them, stared at the fire. Leinth watched her.

Then she asked, softly, “Have you told him?”

Phelan frowned. “Does it—”

Leinth held up a hand to silence him, watching Hecate. Tala glanced between them, but wisely kept quiet. Hecate took a deep breath and shook her head.

“No.”

“Don’t you think you should?”

Hecate said nothing, just stared at the fire.

“Hecate,” Leinth said, her voice gentle.

“I know,” Hecate whispered. “I know.”

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