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.
Everyone had abandoned the street by the time Lonan returned to it. Doors still hung open. All the people were turned out of their houses, and continents of pottery shards were scattered outside Serafina Fiamma. There was no fire this time, no scorched feathers.
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.
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.
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.