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 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.
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.
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.