“She’s not dead, Lonan. And the meaning’s not hidden at all.”
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.
“To feed the stray,” she told him, and winked. “Or so the birds tell me.”
Lonan dropped the speckled egg wryly into his pants pocket. Gilliana had known about Shay the whole time, and probably about Xan too. The fresh-lit fire should have been a giveaway.
“Yeah, yeah. I’ll feed him. But I’m not keeping him.”
Gilliana just cooed to the feeble martin and smiled, olivine eyes dilated like an owl’s in the close light.
“The winds blow the way they do for a reason. Avelot led you where you were supposed to be today. In the end, all we wait for is somebody to find us before we die. It’s what makes death not so bad.”
The apothecary’s son. The wild grove. Realizing the thing plum trees hadn’t quite made him realize. The twelve white ridges of the scallop-shell tattoo between Xan’s collarbones just before—
Lonan cleared his throat. “What if the wrong person found you?”
Gilliana shook her head. “No such thing.”
Sometimes you don’t realize your story needs a crazy bird lady until you do.