Beyond the great blue expanse, the coast of Avalon sat like a circlet atop the waves. It was so far away already Cyprus couldn’t make out any buildings, only the greenish ups and downs of hills. “There she goes,” Kaz said cheerfully, noting the change in Cyprus’s expression.
A goat screamed above. The smell of blood and urine rolled down the stairs. Cyprus and Shay clung to the net and each other, shaking.
Just then the windchimes banged together and Lonan appeared with a gull feather tucked behind his ear. He broke in between the three of them, hoisting Meredy and Merle up like cats by the scruff.
Xan turned and watched him until he misstepped, overturning the driftwood and tripping into the sand. “If that’s what you want,” he said.
As Xan ducked away to unstick the candle, Lonan heard a creak from the old table. He bit his cheek. He was sure the Acolytes saw past the space Xan had occupied to the child in the house. With their hoods raised against the cold, Lonan couldn’t tell where they were looking.
In the pale wash of the cracked window, his clipped hair shone almost white. He’d changed since he and Lonan had been bathed together and scolded together—he was built like a swordswoman’s son now. His mother’s spitting image.
The flutist stood at the railing of the ship, playing a cheery jig over it all. The song died when Lonan skidded to the water’s edge. He looked Lonan up and down.
The pirates still in the street—excluding the man who’d taken the swords, with the blacksmith and the Rune-reader dead at his feet—bristled towards the newcomers. One of them seized Lonan by the upper arms and hauled him against the wall with everyone else.
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.
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.