The Porfirio family record was massive and unevenly bound together, several different papers and diaries all fit into one tome. It gave the impression a hard shake might send everything flying out onto the floor. The cover was decorated with the Porfirio name and golden scrawl, much newer than most of the pages.
The runners bolted at the signal. Their feet pounded the rock, all Serafina’s teenagers galloping through the crevasses. Jeanie with the leg she’d broken summers ago lagged, but her torch was the first to find kindling. The long fronds of a fescue patch ignited.
Cyprus touched the remnants of the decal. He could make out very faint impressions of white trees, their leafless branches enclosing blue-green globes. Silver-dabbed snakes cradled them, eyes set from trimmed malachite.
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The jeweler’s house, at the bottom of the incline, boiled like a cauldron. Lonan plaited tough thread and rum-mixed resin through Shay’s sweaty hair, patterning crushed cockle shells in braids away from Shay’s hairline. His fingerwork was tight and precise.
Before Cyprus was born, there had been a proper schoolteacher in Serafina. A woman straight from the capital, or somewhere close enough to count.
He jogged down the trail to the temple, ignoring the windows of the apothecary shop. The grove was shaken clean to its bones from winter. When Lonan knocked on the door, all the birds inside—crows, seagulls, martins, finches, and swallows—exploded into a ruckus. Wind-catchers clacked wooden music on either side of his head.
Gilliana sat herself down by the fire, mottled brown robes bagging around her. The cage clanked to the floor. She handed him a warm, slightly muddy seagull egg from a brass bowl and pillowed the martin in her lap.
Shay crouched down next to the small fire, mesmerized by feeding wood inside and watching it be eaten at. He showed no sign of moving.
The mercenaries of Selwyn’s horde cast out from the harbors of Eir Nu by the time night lifted. They raced for Avalon. Lonan did not know about Una Beli’s horde, but feared the fear that was rank in the air.