A thin lump protruded from beneath a glued sheet over the book’s inside cover. Feeling his nails around the edges, Cyprus peeled the paper away from the leather.
A solitary auburn-haired figure pored over amber shards split open on a table stacked with maps. With a heavy needle, they chipped at the crinkled legs of spiders and wasps trapped inside. The two seagull feathers sat next to an aged sextant on the maps.
She was slim like a leaf and painted in a dark stain, highlighted by white-grained wood underneath. The lateen sails were cleanly secured, and her prow dipped gently over each pull of the tide.
A young man crouched over the embers, stirring them with a stick. His black curls were pulled back in wet strands and a raven skull leered on the shoulder of his tatty greatcoat, spewing its own feathers.
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.
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.