Lonan braced his hands on both sides of the nearest hollow, staring into it with all his determination. Porous rock stabbed his palms. The blackness ahead shimmered with sound. Garbled nothing-lyrics vibrated below his ear and jaw. All around him, Lonan was surrounded by the rushing Ream.
Cyprus shoved Shay to move. The other boy gave the pirate his best cheeky grin, and Halse spooned out a dribble of thin, greenish stew for him along with some misshapen bits of meat.
This was the Serafina that Lonan knew best—the Serafina after the Porfirios died. Afraid of its own coasts but too poor to move. Dreading the change of seasons. Quietly taking Mistress Leroy’s sleeping herbs and forgetting the names of its dead.
“Lonan, be reasonable, boy,” Neils extended a placating hand toward him, as if to divert a rockslide. “We’ve all taken a blow today. There’s no use in taking another. I’ve done some sailing in my day, and no ship of Serafina’s could catch a ship like that captain’s.”
Kaz’s fingers clamped down on the back of the boys’ necks. His grasp was icy, and black shot through Cyprus’s vision. That iciness spread from the point of contact, sinking dark magic deep into his muscles. Cyprus didn't know if he'd collapsed or frozen in place standing.
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.
Soon, echoes began to shush their footsteps and salty humidity began to coat their tongues. The ground became slippery. Orlaith emerged first beneath an outcropping sharp as canine teeth, set into the side of a plunging cliff. The rock met the sea in a short band of pebbles and pink sand.
The fountain sat at the bottom of the valley, not too far from the temple of Avelot—barely a stone’s throw from their temple of Eponine. Shay dragged his feet after Lonan, but bounced the bucket between his knees with the ease only a young boy and diligent rock-climber could manage.
After the first pirate attack there were the humiliating murmurs, the way Neils would gently separate them after that. He’s meant for Cypress, people tried to explain to Lonan. Then Xan got the seashell tattoo, pearl-white on his chest.