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Blackbringer, p.30
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       Blackbringer, p.30

           Laini Taylor
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  “Three days have flown fast,” said Poppy sadly.

  Magpie nodded. They were leaving at nightfall. The caravans were packed. Faeries had come from all around Dream-dark with baskets of fruit and casseroles for their journey, with breads, pots of jam, puddings, and casks of drink, and the crows had stowed it all away with greedy grins. Orchidspike had contributed several jars of a precious healing balm and Poppy a fresh batch of moonlight mist in a copper urn.

  With all the hubbub of preparation, it hadn’t really hit Magpie that her time in Dreamdark had come to an end, and now she felt a hollow little ache in her gut. “We’ll be back,” she said with a lightness she didn’t feel. She’d had plenty of practice leaving folks behind, but she always knew that when she did, whatever hole her absence left would fill in fast, like a pit dug at the shore. It was just the way of things. It was her lot.

  Magpie and the crows said their farewells in the new courtyard at Hai Issrin Ev. The Rathersting warriors hovered in the sky in formation with their knives held high, and as the crows crested the trees with the caravans, the warriors gave them a deep “Hurrah!”

  It was a hero’s departure, and but for a small, deep pang, Magpie felt as she always did at the start of a journey, as if the world was opening before her like a window. She took a deep breath filled with eagerness, regret, excitement, anxiety, and sadness and whirled around in the air, pausing to gather herself together and dart in a burst of wild flight, out and away.

  She heard a voice cry, “Wait!” and she faltered to a hover.


  She heard gasps from the faeries below before she saw him, but still she wasn’t prepared for the sight of him when he did shoot up into the moonlit sky. She stared and the crows stared, but quickly turned their surprise into hoots of approval. “Handsome wings, lad!” called Bertram.

  “Fine choice!” cried Calypso.

  Magpie shook her head and a slow, marveling smile spread over her face. “Uncommon . . . ,” she murmured.

  He was wearing a new skin but he wasn’t cloaked in falcon feathers as before. In all ways but one he was just himself, pale wild hair and blue eyes and tattoos, and the wings that seemed to grow from his shoulder blades as naturally as any bird’s were black. Feathered wings and black. Crow’s wings.

  “I just finished it!” he said, moving toward Magpie with the ease of a born bird. “I was mad shivered it wouldn’t be done in time!”

  “In time?” she asked, confused.

  “Aye, in time to come with you! I couldn’t ask anyone to carry me across the whole world!”

  “I’d’ve carried ye, lad!” croaked Bertram.

  “Thanks, feather,” said Talon. “Now you won’t have to.”

  Magpie looked closely. The glint and gleam of traceries wove through the wings, giving away its magical origins to her eyes alone. To any other eyes these wings were as true as the crows’ own. “This is what you been doing?” she asked, flummoxed.

  He nodded. “Night and day,” he said earnestly. “I can’t stay behind, Magpie. I’ve already told my father. I need to see what’s out there. Look, I can keep up!” He spun on his wings and surged high like a raptor shooting after prey, then dropped back down to her in a graceful glide. “I don’t have to use my arms or anything. I used the glyph, the one from my dream.”

  “You been planning to come all along?” Magpie asked.

  “Sure, and you had to be in such a great hurry! I haven’t slept a wink in three days!”

  “But Talon, you eejit, why didn’t you just say so? We’d’ve waited for you!”

  Surprised, he said, “You would?”

  “Sure,” Magpie said gruffly. “I guess I don’t mind having you around.”

  “So . . . I can come?” he asked hesitantly, and they both grew bashful.

  “Skive.” Magpie scowled. “You want me to invite you nice? Course you can come!”

  Calypso swooped in and jostled Talon cheerfully with his wings. “Good lad! Let’s be off, then. The wind and world await!”

  And Magpie and Talon shared a look that both could feel like a fizz of magic in the air. The sky unrolled before them like a path, and with burning cheeks and full hearts, side by side, they followed it.



  Laini Taylor, Blackbringer

  (Series: # )




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