his wounds, but was well on his way to recovery. Back when Jacob had been the brother I’d remembered, he and James had often joked how nothing could kill John, because his desire to annoy the world was greater than the world’s ability to stop him.
I only hoped there was more truth to that idea than logically possible.
So there we stood as we had been for the past ten minutes, twelve individuals from different timelines, time periods, backgrounds, and cultures, brought together to mourn the passing of two individuals taken well before their time. Taken not by Jacob, but by a power far beyond our understanding, one that had turned my brother into some kind of agent for its own grand design. What that power was, none of us could really say, but whether it was of its own innate energy or orchestrated by this Merlin character Jacob had gone to see – whoever he really was – or anyone else, no one yet knew. The only one of us with any idea about anything was Jacob, and he was gone.
After minutes of silence, I expected Helena to finally say something, but as I focused on her standing across from me, I found nothing in her to suggest that she was even aware of where she was. She simply stared at the small mound, her eyes focused and unblinking, her jaw clenched tightly as though in anger or in an attempt to hold back tears.
The silence was beginning to grow unbearable, and I decided it was time for someone to say something, anything, but before I could think of anything to say, Galba unceremoniously turned on his heel and left the circle. I wasn’t sure anyone was upset at his departure. We all knew he was a busy man and had things to do, but his self-dismissal began a chain reaction that sent everyone on their way in silence.
Next went Archer, slinking away from the group, followed by James, whom I figured must have been eager to rest and recover from his concussion. Boudicca seemed conflicted about whether or not to follow him, deciding to stay after watching him go for a moment. Gaius and Marcus drifted away next, a seemingly inseparable pair of friends, much as Jacob and John had been.
TJ, Georgia, and Alex left next. The trio was probably more confused and lost than everyone else. Their mission was still incomplete and perhaps even irrelevant thanks to what happened to Jacob.
Then went Jeanne, crossing himself as he turned to leave, but not before placing a large, consoling hand on Helena’s shoulder as he leaned in to whisper to her. She didn’t react to whatever he’d said, but he didn’t seem to mind as he finally walked away, offering me a respectful nod as he left – the only one who seemed to care about me at all.
That left only Helena, Boudicca, and me.
I wanted to reach out and comfort Helena, but I wasn’t sure she would want my support. Jacob would have known how to help her, or at least where to start. He’d always been an idiot with other girlfriends, but he truly loved Helena and always tried his best, and she was willing to overlook his often clumsy efforts because she loved him as well.
But that had been before the orb.
Now, I wasn’t sure what Helena felt anymore. But the way in which Jacob had killed Vincent, allowed Agrippina to stab John, and escaped with her proved to me that he no longer felt anything at all. I’d been so angry with him after the orb had driven him to madness the first time, before we’d encountered Agrippina here in the wilderness, and I had been ready to disown him forever. But then then he’d suddenly gotten better, and now I understood everything he’d done had been because of the orb.
Merlin had indicated to Jacob that the orb was most enticing when a person was at his weakest moments, just as he had been after losing his son and being exhausted from his month long imprisonment by the man who was supposed to have helped him. If he’d had a weaker moment in his life, I didn’t want to know of it, and Jacob had suffered