Xan turned and watched him until he misstepped, overturning the driftwood and tripping into the sand. “If that’s what you want,” he said.
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.
Valley wind strings birthday graves along the roadside, impossible to tell from the litter and waste.
A man at Camalo Fair swore to me that if I came with him on the Ferris wheel he’d cure cancer.
“Ain't that the truth. So you’re training the patriarch’s boy, now?” Hanif wrestled playfully with his son's grip. “That’s a damned honor. Damned waste, too, if you ask me. Like five cats in one dog, that young man is. Think you’d be willing to give this little beast of wrath some lessons?”
Her name was Zoya Nia. She was a foreign slave of an aristocrat who had ended the service for her crime a long time ago, and her owners paid her well. They trusted her with tending their babes and selecting the best of Árai’s horses for the warriors they sponsored.
The pathway to the priestess’s tower was almost as lush as the flanking gardens. No one’s feet had disturbed it for quite some time. Vines and creepers spilled tiny blossoms before Umi's boots. When was the last time anyone had gone in, or out?
Shiori concentrated until the room began to spark with magic. One by one, the crystals and glasses began to light with an aurora of colors. A warped space swam through the room, distorting the windows.
“I remember," she said eventually. "There was a family who always brought goats past our street to the market. One ate the flower off my dress when I was little. Their son promised he’d marry me if I stopped crying, but I think I hit him. I don’t remember if I said yes or not. I might not have stopped crying, either.”
It took them hours to reach it—a flat, dark lake with coarse water, sheltered by the broken sides of what had once been a quarry. James didn’t say it, but Eric knew he could have covered three times their distance in half the time if he'd gone alone.